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Fed Regional Bank Directors Saw Moderate Growth Amid Fiscal Risk

Directors at the Federal Reserve’s district banks said last month U.S. housing was helping to generate moderate economic growth amid risks from fiscal cutbacks and high unemployment.

“Directors viewed economic activity as continuing to expand at a moderate pace,” according to minutes released today in Washington summarizing the discussions. “Overall, directors continued to see downside risks to the outlook from the elevated unemployment rate and ongoing fiscal constraints.”

Data released today underscore that the economy is gaining strength. Assembly lines in the U.S. churned out more automobiles and computers last month, pointing to a rebound in manufacturing. Output at factories, mines and utilities climbed 0.3 percent, the biggest advance since February, after being little changed in May, according to Fed data. Another report showed homebuilders this month were the most confident in seven years.

The minutes summarize discussions among board members at the 12 regional reserve banks as they consider whether the Fed should alter the discount rate that it charges on emergency lending. The discussions were considered by the Fed’s Washington-based Board of Governors at meetings on May 13, June 3 and June 17. The board made no change to the discount rate, which has been at 0.75 percent since February 2010.

Directors at the district banks in Kansas City and Philadelphia last month requested a quarter percentage-point increase in the discount rate to 1 percent, while directors at the other 10 banks voted to keep the rate unchanged.

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