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Fed Notes Modest Improvement in Transport Activity

The U.S. economy improved in nine of the Federal Reserve’s 12 districts early this year, with transportation levels improving modestly, the Fed said last Wednesday.

Three of five districts reporting on transportation activity said it improved from the previous survey, the Fed said in its latest“Beige Book” report.

The Cleveland district showed a small upturn in freight transport volume, with freight executives reporting a slight improvement in shipping volume, the Fed said.

One contact noted that January shipments increased year-over-year but margins remained depressed, with several executives saying that overcapacity continues to be a key issue facing the industry.

Manufacturing activity strengthened in most regions, particularly in the high-tech equipment, automobile, and metal industries.

Retail sales rose in many areas, while the Atlanta, Kansas City and St. Louis districts reported lower-than-expected figures or declines.

The Fed releases the Beige Book eight times a year. Wednesday’s report, which covered the Jan. 5 through Feb. 22 period, was prepared by the Kansas City Fed.

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