Fed Beige Book: U.S. Economy Stronger

The pace of U.S. economic activity continued to pick up in most of the country in late November through early January, the Federal Reserve (search) said on Wednesday.

But one of 12 Federal Reserve districts — Cleveland, in the nation's manufacturing heartland — characterized economic activity in its region as mixed.

"Eleven districts characterized activity as expanding, with Atlanta, New York and Richmond noting that the pace of activity had quickened since their last reports," the Fed's beige book (search) summary of economic conditions said.

The Fed said that consumer spending was generally higher in the six weeks since it issued its previous beige book summary on Dec. 1, and many districts reported stronger holiday sales than a year ago.

The Fed said inflationary pressures remained largely in check and while some manufacturing costs continued to rise slightly, "price increases for final goods and services were generally modest."

The Richmond Fed Bank prepared the beige book based on data collected before Jan. 10. Members of the Fed's policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee (search) will use the information at their scheduled Feb. 1-2 meeting, where they are widely expected to nudge interest rates up for a sixth consecutive time by a quarter percentage point.