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Fed's Beige Book: Economic expansion continues, price pressures modest

The 12 Federal Reserve districts reported a modest to moderate increase in economic activity in September through early October, according to the U.S. central bank's Oct. 18 Beige Book release.

The districts reported that manufacturing activity expanded "modestly to moderately," while retail spending rose slowly. Loan demand, the districts reported, was "stable to modestly" higher. The Richmond, Atlanta and Dallas districts had "major" disruptions from hurricanes Irma and Harvey in the transportation, agriculture and energy sectors.

On the inflation front, price pressures stayed "modest" since the Fed's last Beige Book release in September. Across all districts, retail prices rose slightly, with transportation, energy and construction materials prices increasing relatively more rapidly.

In terms of employment growth, most districts reported "flat to moderate" increases. The districts noted that labor conditions were tight, with labor shortages hindering business growth. Many reported they were having issues attracting qualified workers, particularly in the transportation, manufacturing and construction industries. The majority of districts reported that wages had "modest to moderate" pressures, with pressure in the transportation and construction sectors being more evident than others.