Fed says US economy improved in recent months

Workers at a General Motors factory in Michigan
Image caption The Fed highlighted the carmaking industry

The US central bank has slightly upgraded its view of the US economy, saying it expanded at a "moderate pace" in recent months.

The view comes in the Federal Reserve's latest Beige Book report, which covers the period from late February to early April.

The Fed highlighted growth in the manufacturing and construction sectors.

In its previous beige book report in January, the Fed said growth was only "modest to moderate".

In its latest report, the Fed also said that carmakers were performing strongly.

Yet it cautioned that consumer spending was only increasing at a "modest" pace.

The most recent official figures showed that the US economy grew at an annualised rate of 0.4% in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Meanwhile, official data from the Commerce Department showed that retail sales fell in March, down 0.4% from February.

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