US growth mostly moderate at year-end: Fed Beige Book

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US economy grew at a "moderate" pace across most regions at the end of 2013, the Federal Reserve's "Beige Book" survey showed Thursday, with muted price and wage rises.

The survey, covering the end of November and December, showed hiring in most areas was slow but steady, "with few instances of rapid growth but very few reports of staff cuts or plant closings." That backed official data showing the economy continued to pick up pace in the fourth quarter but may have hit a modest lull in December, when Labor Department data showed last week that a weak 74,000 jobs were generated, compared with expectations of nearly 200,000.

The Fed characterized growth in nine of its 12 districts as moderate, three "modest" and one, Kansas City, "steady".

Retail sales were up in nine regions as well, and all 12 noted year-on-year increases in manufacturing activity, according to the Beige Book.

Prices were stable in half of the districts and saw small increases in the rest. Two-thirds of the districts saw increases in hiring and wages, the wage gains called "small to moderate."

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