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U.S. economy expanding at a moderate pace: Fed

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[January 16, 2014]  WASHINGTON (Reuters)  The U.S. economy continued to grow at a moderate pace from late November through the end of 2013, with some regions of the country expecting a pick-up in growth, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday.

In its Beige Book report of anecdotal information on business activity collected from contacts nationwide, the U.S. central bank said two-thirds of the 12 districts reported increases in hiring.

"The economic outlook is positive in most districts, with some reports citing expectations for 'more of the same' and some expecting a pick-up in growth," the report said.

The findings, compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston from data collected on or before January 6, were broadly in line with economic data ranging from consumer spending to industrial production that have showed a building up of strength in the economy in late 2013.

The reports of increased hiring support views that a sharp slowdown in job growth in December was the result of cold weather that gripped some parts of the country during the month.

While the Fed said the real estate market continued to improve, it noted a few districts had reported that home sales or residential construction had slowed or declined in recent months.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; editing by Andrea Ricci)

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