By Houston Business Journal

The economy over the course of the past six weeks expanded moderately in the 11th district, which includes the Houston region, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Beige Book report.

The latest report released Jan. 12 says the energy sector remained a source of strength for the area in the final weeks of 2010.

Staffing firms also noted steady demand levels, while retailers said they were on track to outpace 2009 selling levels.

Construction activity is still ⿿subdued⿝ and loan demand remains weak, the report said.

Some firms that responded to the survey were experiencing higher input prices at the end of 2010, while few firms reported higher selling prices.

Retailers said prices remained steady and are expected to increase in the second half of 2011.

The retail industry expects to finish 2010 on a positive note thanks to higher holiday sales and inventories that are at desired levels, the report said.

In terms of hiring, staffing firms are adding employees in anticipation of more hiring in 2011.

Both primary metals and high-tech manufacturing firms made reports of payroll increases, with airlines hiring staffers for call centers and airports.

Energy industry leaders say theyâ¿¿re looking for a few skilled workers in the new year to fill specific positions.

Copyright 2011 American City Business Journals

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