Here are some highlights from various news sources:
The report found "modest expansion in economic activity" in many districts, including the regions centered on Chicago, Minneapolis and Philadelphia. But some districts noted some slowing, including Dallas, Boston and St. Louis. It also noted continued demand for skilled workers and some pressure to increase wages
From CBS Marketwatch:
Housing markets remained weak, although there were "signs of stabilization" in some areas.
Manufacturing activity was "steady or expanding," despite the weakness in auto- and housing-related production.
Retail sales were said to be growing steadily. Auto sales were sluggish.
Inflation was "little changed." Pay increases were "moderate."
The general tone of the report was upbeat, describing continued growth in retail sales, services and demand for labor. Policy makers are alert for signs of a deeper economic slowdown after last week's global equities rout and reports showing a prolonged decline in housing.
``I still think that the underlying economic fundamentals are conducive to a pickup in growth as we move through 2007 and 2008,'' Chicago Fed President Michael Moskow said today in a speech in Chicago. ``I am not prepared to significantly change my projections.''
Policy-makers expect the economy to slowly pick up after losing steam in the fourth quarter as housing cooled. The Beige Book nodded to hopes that this sector might finally be on the mend, while softness among manufacturers remained confined to autos and products linked to residential construction.
I would encourage everybody to read the full report and all of the news articles as they provide some of the best insight into what the Federal Reserve policy makers are thinking.