WASHINGTON – Strong auto sales, better hiring and a continued housing recovery helped the economy grow throughout the country in January and February, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Federal Reserve.
The survey noted that 10 of the Fed’s 12 banking districts reported moderate or modest growth, while the Boston and Chicago districts reported slow growth.
Consumer spending increased in most regions, although spending growth slowed in many districts, and many of the gains were driven by auto sales. Many districts said consumers pulled back slightly after seeing taxes rise and gas prices increase. Some also expressed concerns about federal spending cuts that started March 1.
Housing markets showed more strength in nearly all parts of the country. Manufacturing grew modestly in most regions after struggling through most of 2012. And many districts reported improvement in individual jobs markets.
The report, called the Beige Book, provides anecdotal information on economic conditions through Feb. 22. The information will be discussed along with other economic data during the Fed’s next policy meeting March 19-20.
Analysts said the report was slightly more upbeat than the previous Fed survey, noting the modest rebound in manufacturing in the past two months.