Washington (July 31, 2003) -- The pace of economic activity increased a notch during June and the first half of July, according to Federal Reserve district reports released this week.

Three of the Fed’s 12 districts -- Chicago, St. Louis, and San Francisco -- characterized economic activity as sluggish, while Atlanta described conditions as mixed. But reports from the remaining districts suggested somewhat stronger growth in the weeks since the last Beige Book, the Federal Reserve reported. “Several districts noted increased optimism about economic prospects in coming months,” according to the report.

Manufacturing activity edged higher in most districts, and activity in the services and energy sectors grew somewhat faster in recent weeks. However, the Federal Reserve report said consumer spending remained lackluster. Housing sales and starts remained strong across districts, but commercial real estate conditions remained sluggish.

Ten of the 12 district reports indicating mixed, steady or slightly improved conditions in the manufacturing sector, and nine districts were optimistic about prospects for the sector over the next six months. Ten districts reported increased demand in the service sector during recent weeks.

-- WebCPA staff

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