Report: Weather Obscures Economic Conditions
U.S. economic conditions in January and early February were difficult to discern due to severe cold weather, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday (March 5).
MarketWatch reported that in sector after sector and region after region, the weather played havoc on conditions, the report said. There were 119 separate mentions of the word “weather” in the so-called Beige Book.
The assessment is likely to not stop the Fed from continuing its steady reduction in monthly asset purchases. Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen said it might be “months” before the Fed gets a good reading of economic conditions.
The Beige Book said that eight of the 12 Fed districts reported that economic conditions continued to expand though Feb. 24. New York and Philadelphia regions experienced a slight decline in activity, which was mostly blamed on the weather.
Growth also slowed in Chicago though contacts were still optimistic about the outlook for 2014. Kansas City reported that conditions remained stable.
Weather impacted retail sales and manufacturing, but not all of its effects were negative: many districts reported energy production was rising on increased demand.
The Fed survey found that employment levels improved “gradually.” There were no signs of inflation as price pressures were seen as “subdued.”
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