Beige. Ordinarily a color so boring as to be considered, well, colorless.

But the neutral blend of brown and white will command rainbow-like attention among traders Wednesday when the


releases its

Beige Book


Published eight times a year, the Beige Book is a compendium of anecdotal economic information culled from each of the 12 regional

Federal Reserve Banks

. The skinny on strength and weakness in various sectors comes from regional Fed directors and interviews with executives, economists, market experts and other sources.

As with every economic report in the lead-up to the March 25 Federal Open Market Committee meeting, Wall Street will parse the Beige Book for any clues to what the Fed will do with interest rates. Frazier Evans, senior economist for

Colonial Investment Services

, says there won't be much comfort between the beige covers.

"The Beige Book will not be particularly reassuring in terms of the pace of growth," Evans says. He says the rate reported in the new book will probably match up with the fairly brisk pace reported in the Jan. 22 edition.

As for how

Alan Greenspan

and the other Fed hot shots will react to the Beige Book's musings, Evans says it's -- you guessed it -- rather hard to say.

"I don't think

the Beige Book by itself is going to be too momentous," Evans says. "But when you stack up the numbers stronger versus weaker, this'll definitely be on the stronger side."

Late Tuesday, the 30-year Treasury bond was little changed, its yield at 6.84%.

Wednesday's numbers


CNW Auto Sales Trak

(10 a.m. EST): Automobile sales for March 1 to 10.

Beige Book

(2 p.m. EST): Release of national anecdotal survey of national economy by regional Federal Reserve banks.

Consumer Comfort Index

(6:30 p.m. EST):

ABC/Money Magazine's

report for the week ended Sunday. The index stood at -5 for the week ended March 2. Its 52-week high was 1, for the week ended Feb. 16. The 52-week low: -17, for the week ended March 24, 1996.

By John J. Edwards III