Fed's Beige Book said the economy continued to expand
Fed's Beige Book said the economy continued to expand into the end of the year, with 11 Districts reporting "modest to moderate gains," with Dallas reporting a "robust increase." A majority of contacts across the nation also remain optimistic for 2018. Most Districts said non-auto retail sales were higher, with auto sales mixed. Some retailers said holiday sales were better than expected. Most manufacturers reported modest growth, but some indicated increased capital expenditures over the reporting period. There was also continued growth in transportation activity. Residential real estate remained constrained, and there was little growth in home sales due to limited inventory. Employment grew at a modest pace, though most Districts cited on-going labor market tightness, as well as challenges finding qualified workers. There was some elevated demand for manufacturing and construction labor. Most Districts said wages increased at a modest pace. A few Districts reported that firms were raising wages in a broader range of industries and positions. Price growth remained modest, with a couple of exceptions -- Chicago reported prices increased only slightly, while San Francisco said price inflation was down slightly. The rather reserved tone of the report remains at odds with a lot of the real sector data that has revealed fairly robust growth.