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Beige Book: Fed saw modest gains across most of country

The FederalReserve said most of its district banks reported "modest" economic gainsin late May and June.

The centralbank said July 13 in its Beige Book report that labor market conditions were steady"as employment continued to grow modestly." While a number of districtsreported a steady labor market for manufacturing and stronger demand for skilledlabor, the Fed said that the retail employment sector was weak when compared withother industries.

Creditdemand continued to expand, with the Fed's St. Louis regional bank contacts reportingthat demand was "strong" in the region. Consumer lending was "unchangedor improved," according to the central bank. It also said that commercial realestate loan demand increased in New York, Philadelphia, Richmond and Kansas City.Asset quality was stable or had improved in its districts, the Fed said.

Inflationand price pressures "remained slight" across its various districts asconsumer spending softened since its last report.

Despitethe job market improvements, "wage pressures remained modest to moderate inmost Districts," according to the Fed's report. It added that "the strongestpressures [are] linked to skilled workers and difficult-to-fill positions."