Stronger housing markets, including existing-home sales in the Philadelphia region, helped boost economic growth at the end of the summer in nearly every region of the United States, according to a Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday.
The Fed said growth improved in 10 of its 12 regional banking districts from mid-August through September, while leveling off in one region and slowing in another. Rising home sales helped lift home prices in most districts.
The report, known formally as the Beige Book, also cited an increase in auto sales in most parts of the country. Still, consumer spending was flat or up only slightly in most districts. Manufacturing activity was mixed, with half of the districts reporting slight improvement since the previous Fed report. And hiring was unchanged in most districts.
In the Philadelphia region, the Fed said, the overall economic outlook "appears somewhat more optimistic" than in the most recent survey, in August and business leaders "are beginning to look beyond the pending election and looming fiscal cliff."
The Fed said Philadelphia-area manufacturing activity, commercial leasing and sales of new homes declined since August, but sales of existing homes, retail sales, auto sales and bank lending volumes were growing. Service-sector firms reported mixed results, the Fed said.
The Beige Book provides anecdotal information on business conditions around the country. The information collected by the Fed's 12 regional banks will be used as the basis for the Fed's policy discussion at the Oct. 23-24 meeting.