NORMAN — A report on the nation’s economic well-being and two-day, record-setting stock market performances provide more encouraging news as businesses look to close the first quarter in coming weeks.
A Federal Reserve survey found 10 of the Fed’s 12 banking districts reported moderate or modest growth in January and February. Only the Chicago and Boston districts reported slow growth.
The report, called the Beige Book by the Associated Press, found growth in housing, jobs and consumer spending in most areas of the country. It’s just part of the data that Federal Reserve governors will digest before setting interest rates at their meeting this month.
Many economists believe the Fed will keep interest rates low to further stimulate job growth, manufacturing, automobile and housing starts. The nation’s unemployment rate was 7.9 percent in January when the Fed last met.
The report uses anecdotal information and closed out before the automatic federal spending cuts that kicked in March 1. But most of the data came after workers paid in more to Social Security beginning Jan. 1 and faced higher gasoline costs. It also came as the highest-paid workers faced higher income taxes.