) -- In its region-by-region assessment of the economy, federal central bankers announced today that conditions continued to stabilize in July and August -- although the labor market remains a problem in all of the districts.

The report -- the Federal Reserve's Beige Book -- collects a series of anecdotes from 12 separate districts to give a snapshot of the nation's economic picture.

According to the report, most of the districts gave a "cautiously positive" picture of the economic outlook. Many of the districts contended with a series of issues, including flat retail sales, downward pressure on home prices and continued tight credit. Still, the report also highlighted the government's so-called "cash for clunkers" program, which helped propel auto sales in most districts. Meanwhile, many districts also saw improvement in the residential real estate and manufacturing sectors.

One glaring problem that remains is the labor market, which all districts described as weak, echoing previous Fed statements that unemployment remains a primary concern. Even so, the report also said that temporary hiring ticked upward in several areas.

Immediately following the release of the report, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up 0.1%, while the

S&P 500 Index

was gaining 0.4%.

-- Written by Sung Moss in New York

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