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Autos fuel modest growth in US manufacturing: Fed

Keywords: Tags  Federal Reserve, economic activity, steel, specialty metal, fabricators, auto, energy, construction beige book

CHICAGO — U.S. economic activity expanded at a moderate pace over the past two months, according to the Federal Reserve Board’s latest economic conditions report, commonly known as the Beige Book.

The Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Richmond and San Francisco districts all said demand is strong for inputs related to passenger vehicles, housing and infrastructure, including steel.

The Chicago district highlighted the auto industry as a main source of strength, with steel output growing moderately, and manufacturers there expect demand for heavy and medium trucks to ratchet up through year-end. The San Francisco district’s survey indicates shipments of steel products used in nonresidential construction rose further.

In the Philadelphia district, metal fabricators reported higher shipments and new orders, but primary metal producers experienced a seasonal slowing in activity.

Steel producers in the Cleveland district expressed concern about the negative impact of growing steel imports on their business.

In the Atlanta region, railroads reported higher nonferrous scrap and metallurgical coal shipments and ports reported higher shipments of steel used in automobile production.

Specialty metal manufacturers in the Chicago district reported an increase in orders, particularly from the auto and aerospace industries.

Many manufacturers in the St. Louis district are hiring, expanding operations and opening new facilities, including appliances, automobiles and parts, refrigeration compressors, barges and other marine equipment.

Energy and mining activity rose in Colorado, the Dakotas, Minnesota, Montana and Wyoming and is expected to grow in the future.

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