NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Economic conditions have largely improved somewhat in 12 Federal Reserve districts, according to the Federal Reserve's latest beige book report.

Overall economic activity increased at a "slow to moderate pace" since the previous report in October across all Federal Reserve Districts except St. Louis, which reported a decline in economic activity.

District reports indicated that consumer spending rose modestly during the reporting period. Motor vehicle sales increased in a number of districts, and tourism showed signs of strength.

Business service activity was flat to higher since the previous report. Manufacturing activity expanded at a steady pace across most of the country.

Overall bank lending increased slightly, and home refinancing grew at a more rapid pace. The October report said loan demand was down. The increase in bank lending cited in today's report indicates that loan demand has now improved.

Meanwhile, residential real estate activity generally remained sluggish, and commercial real estate activity remained lackluster across most of the nation, the report said. Single family home construction was weak and commercial construction was slow according to November report.

Districts mostly reported favorable agricultural conditions. Activity in the energy and mining sectors increased .

Hiring was generally subdued, although some firms with open positions reported difficulty finding qualified applicants. Wages and salaries remained stable across districts. Price increases remained subdued, and some cost pressures were reported to have eased.

"Our first impression is that the subdued nature of the report is somewhat inconsistent with the pace of the data over the intervening period -- in this case that ended in mid-November -- but perhaps timing didn't allow it to encompass some the improvement," CRT Capital analyst David Ader said.

"Still, there was no drama that we can see in the details and perhaps with a skew to a degree of more optimism in that there were openings for qualified applicants, but not enough of those, and that there were some area of upward push on wages. This is splitting hairs and we'd paint the beige book beige."

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

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Andrea Tse


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