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U.S. economic growth still modest, Fed’s Beige Book finds

In this March 7, 2012, file photo shows job seekers standing line during the Career Expo job fair, in Portland, Ore.

Rick Bowmer/AP

The U.S. economy trucked along at a "measured" pace in recent weeks and hiring remained modest, according to a Federal Reserve report that did little to calm concerns about slow growth and high unemployment.

Details from the manufacturing sector were mixed, the Fed said in its Beige Book report on Wednesday. Contacts in five of the Fed's 12 districts reported worries about the outlook for 2013, predicated in part on concerns about a looming "fiscal cliff" contraction in the U.S. government's budget.

"Consumer spending grew at a moderate pace in most districts," the report said, alluding to a generally upbeat outlook for holiday sales from those contacts that offered their views on the key shopping season for retailers.

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The report, which compiles anecdotal evidence on the economy based on the Fed's business contacts, also found few signs of price pressures.

That should give comfort to Fed policy makers, who recently launched a large new stimulus plan aimed at supporting the economic recovery and keeping long-term interest rates low.

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