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Economy showing improvement, Fed 'beige book' survey shows

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A Federal Reserve survey shows the U.S. economy strengthening over the last two months in areas that include manufacturing, construction, retail sales and bank lending.

Seven of the Fed's 12 regions — Boston, New York, Richmond, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas and San Francisco — reported "moderate" growth during the early spring, and the remaining five described growth as "modest," according to the 'beige book' survey released Wednesday.

Retail sales were reviving, helped by pent-up demand for new cars after the harsh winter, the survey found. Manufacturing was expanding in all regions, along with lending. One weakness was home sales, held back in...