The economy is showing scattered signs of improvement but remains generally sluggish, according to the latest Beige Book report released by the

Federal Reserve


There was no sign of deterioration in any the Fed districts, and all 12 districts showed some signs of increased economic activity, the report said.

The Dallas, Kansas City, New York and Minneapolis districts reported improvements. Philadelphia and Cleveland reported conditions as "mixed," while other the other six saw "sluggish, subpar, or subdued economic growth."

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While the report, a compilation of data collected before June 2, doesn't signal a definite recovery, it was a marked improvement of the last report from April 23, which showed some signs of economic deterioration due to bad weather and war jitters.

This time around, retail sales rebounded after the war, but they remained below last year's levels. The Fed saw no widespread inflationary or deflationary pressures, but prices for crude oil, fuel and some manufactured products were generally lower. Prices for tuition, state taxes, transportation and all types of insurance rose. Natural gas prices rose as well, pushing up prices of most petrochemical products to record levels.

Low mortgage rates continue to encourage residential construction and home sales in most areas, but commercial construction and real estate markets were still weak. Manufacturing activity was mixed, with some districts reporting signs of improvement since the last Beige Book, but others still seeing declines in orders. Service sector reports, although limited, suggested sluggish activity overall.

Agricultural production was hampered by wet weather in some areas, while the labor markets remained weak, with falling wages. Benefit costs continued to increase.

The Beige Book is a summary of economic activity throughout the company prepared for use by officials at the central bank's next policy meeting scheduled for June 24 and 25.