Fed report reflects expanding economy

Most of the concerns were centered around congressional action on the looming "fiscal cliff." Without, at least, a temporary agreement before the end of the year, a combination of more than $600 billion in scheduled tax increases and spending cuts will take effect. 

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On the hiring front, labor markets showed improvement in six districts and were described as improving modestly by Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis and Dallas. 

Wages are still slow to increase because of high unemployment, but several districts noted higher wages in certain industries, such as oil drilling in North Dakota and the rising need for specialized workers in transportation, high-tech and energy in the Kansas City area.

Employers added 171,000 jobs in October, and the jobless rate ticked up to 7.9 percent from 7.8. 

The November report, the first since the election, is due out Dec. 7. 

However, the report showed that labor markets in general were weaker than in the last report, citing examples of soft demand and an unwillingness of some manufacturers to hire long-term unemployed workers. 

Manufacturing weakened in seven of the districts was a negative in the report, with more than half the districts reporting a slowdown. 

There was higher demand for mortgages and auto loans, with most districts reporting an improvement in overall credit quality.

Expectations for the holidays remained strong — this report covers October through Nov. 14 — even before the Thanksgiving weekend posted solid sales. 

The Federal Open Market Committee will use the report at the Dec. 11-12 meeting to determine whether the central bank should continue a bond-buying program, which is set to expire at year's end.