June 4, 2014 3:00 PM, EDT
Economy Expands Moderately; Cargo Volume Rises After Harsh Winter, Fed Says

The economy continued to expand moderately from early April to late May in most of the country with cargo volume and shipments increasing after a difficult winter, the Federal Reserve said.

Cargo volume increased in six of the 12 districts, and port activity grew in the Richmond and Atlanta districts, the Fed said in its latest Beige Book report released June 4.

In the Richmond District, an executive at a national freight trucking firm said that business returned to normal levels as the weather improved. The district also reported transportation contact expects equipment purchases by trucking firms to rise soon as aging fleets are replaced and e-commerce expands.

A trucking firm in the Richmond District reported recent wage increases for nondrivers and expected drivers’ wages to also increase in the near future.

In Atlanta, trucking companies reported a slowing in the growth of tonnage since the last report, but overall freight volumes remained robust. The majority of transportation contacts said they expect growth to be sustained for the rest of the year, according to the Fed.

The Port of Virginia reported continued strength in the volume of containerized grains. Imports and exports of autos remained strong at the Port of Baltimore, and container shipments increased after a weak first quarter, the Fed reported.

Port activity grew briskly in the Richmond and Atlanta Districts, particularly for containerized cargo and auto-related products.

Transportation firms in the Kansas City District noted solid sales growth from the previous survey, and expectations for future activity moved slightly higher.

The Fed releases its Beige Book report eight times a year.  The report, which covered the period April 7 through May 23, was prepared by New York Fed.