The U.S. economy expanded at a “modest to moderate pace” in January and early February as factories boosted production, while transportation service showed mixed results, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday.
“Manufacturing continued to expand at a steady pace across the nation,” with several districts showing gains, particularly in auto-related industries, the Fed said in its “beige book” report, which it issues eight times a year.
Five of the Fed’s 12 districts reported moderate growth, up from two in the previous beige book report.
Freight demand improved over the previous month, one trucking executive in the Fed’s Richmond district said.
An aging fleet of heavy trucks and machinery and tightening emission standards for such equipment were noted as reasons for likely continued demand strength in 2012, the Fed’s Chicago district reported.
Transportation activity in the Kansas City district slowed but was expected to improve in the months ahead, though trucking firms remained concerned about high fuel costs and a lack of qualified drivers.