Fed: Economy continues to improve

The U.S. economy continue to show improvement behind higher retail and vehicle sales as well as increased tourism spending, according to a Federal Reserve report.

The monthly beige book report showed that economic activity increased in 11 of its 12 districts between the end of February and April 5. Manufacturing reports were up in all districts except St. Louis, where more factories closed than opened and temporary Census hiring couldn't prop up employment numbers. 

Across the nation, labor markets still remained generally weak but hiring was evident for some temporary workers including Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta and Chicago. Some workers may begin to see paycheck increases, according to the report.

Retail prices generally remained stable while some input prices increased. 

Several districts reported that consumers appear more confident and businesses in Cleveland, Atlanta, Kansas City and Dallas were cautiously optimistic regarding future sales and expect improvements in the next several months. 

Sales of home furnishings and electronics were up in some districts and seasonal apparel sales were up in New York, Philadelphia and Kansas City. Atlanta reported that retailers continued to keep inventory levels lower than normal, and retailers in New York reported that inventories are in very good shape. 

Several districts reported an increase in the housing market as Atlanta reported improved new home sales across the region. 

Still the commercial real estate sector remained weak nationwide. Commercial leasing in Richmond increased and Dallas has likely hit bottom in the commercial market, the report said.