The economy grew at a "modest to moderate pace" in October and the first half of November, according to the Beige Book report, released by the Federal Reserve on Wednesday.

Growth was "moderate" in the New York, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and Dallas regions and "modest" in Philadelphia, Chicago, Kansas City, and San Francisco. Boston merely reported "that economic activity continued to expand."

Manufacturing also grew at "a modest to moderate pace," most districts reported. Philadelphia and Cleveland firms were becoming "more conservative" about capital spending, although no such restraints were noted in Boston or Kansas City. The federal government shutdown affected some Philadelphia firms. Chicago was strong based on a surge in the motor-vehicle industry, which launched new models and saw growing demand for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Cleveland and St. Louis also noted a ramp-up in vehicle manufacturing.

"Manufacturers in many Districts expressed optimism about near-term growth prospects," the report noted.

Retailers expressed hope and caution about the holiday shopping season, but in general districts reported increased consumer spending.

Tourism grew in most districts, despite the negative impact from the federal government shutdown in some areas.

"Residential real estate activity improved across many Districts, with multifamily construction experiencing moderate to strong growth," the report said.

Hiring rose modestly, or was flat, with districts reporting difficulty "finding qualified workers, especially for high-skilled positions."

"Upward pressure on wages and overall price inflation were contained," the report said. "Contacts in many Districts voiced concern about future cost increases attributable to the Affordable Care Act and other types of federal regulation."

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