In sector after sector and region after region, the weather played havoc on conditions, the report said. There were 119 separate mentions of the word “weather” in the so-called Beige Book.
The assessment is likely to not stop the Fed from continuing its tapering.Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen said it might be “months” before the Fed gets a good reading of economic conditions.
The Beige Book said that eight of the 12 Fed districts reported that economic conditions continued to expand though Feb. 24.New York and Philadelphia regions experienced a slight decline in activity, which was mostly blamed on the weather.
Growth also slowed in Chicago though contacts were still optimistic about the outlook for 2014. Kansas City reported that conditions remained stable.
Weather impacted retail sales and manufacturing.Not all of its effects were negative: many districts reported energy production was rising on increased demand.
The Fed survey found that employment levels improved “gradually.” There were no signs of inflation as price pressures were seen as “subdued.”
Reports from home sales were “somewhat mixed.” While many districts said conditions were still improving, they noted that growth had slowed.
The Beige Book is a collection of anecdotes on the economy used to help the Federal Reserve prepare for its next interest rate setting meeting.
The Fed started to pull back from its monthly asset purchase program in December, and has cut purchases by $10 billion at each of the last two meetings, bringing it down to a $65 billion-per-month pace.
Economists expect the Fed to look through the bad weather and to make a similar cut when the Fed policy committee meets again on March 18-19.