WASHINGTON Oct 20 The U.S. economy grew sluggishly in recent weeks with scant inflation pressures, and employers were reluctant to hire or invest amid economic and policy uncertainties, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday.
The U.S. central bank's Beige Book provided further evidence the economy is stuck in a weak recovery that is failing to generate new jobs.
The report, prepared for the Fed's next policy-setting session on Nov. 2-3, is unlikely to derail what appears to be a consensus among policymakers in favor of additional monetary easing.
Manufacturing was stronger in most of the Fed's 12 districts, buoyed by exports in many places, the anecdotal report on economic conditions said.
Consumer spending held steady or gained slightly, but shoppers focused on necessities. Housing markets remained weak, and although prices appeared to be stabilizing, inventories were reported as elevated and increasing in areas, the Fed said.
Higher costs of agricultural commodities and metals were not passed on to consumers, and wage pressures were minimal, it said.
In that environment, the job market and business investment remained weak.
"Businesses continued to postpone capital spending plans because of economic and public policy uncertainties," the Fed said. "Hiring remained limited, with many firms reluctant to add to permanent payrolls given economic softness."