Fed reports slowing US economic activity due to virus surge

WASHINGTON — A Federal Reserve survey of business conditions around the country found that economic activity in several regions was slowing in November as coronavirus cases surged.

The Fed report released today said that overall, the Fed’s 12 regional banks characterized the economic expansion as “modest or moderate.” But it noted that three Midwest regions and the Philadelphia region reported activity had begun to slow in early November as COVID-19 cases surged.

The report said that most districts found that local businesses’ optimism has “waned,” with many citing concerns about the wave of virus cases and renewed lockdown restrictions. The report also said there was concern about the looming expiration dates for government support programs, including extended unemployment benefits and the moratoriums that have been in place on evictions and foreclosures.

The report, known as the beige book, will be used by Fed officials when they hold their last meeting of the year on Dec. 15-16 to discuss possible changes to the central bank’s interest-rate policies.

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