18 January 2001, 10:39  The Federal Reserve's latest beige book survey

The Federal Reserve's latest beige book survey Wednesday shows a further deceleration in the rate of growth of the U.S. economy in December, "diminished" consumer confidence, "lackluster" holiday sales and weaker manufacturing. "Reports from Federal Reserve Districts indicate that economic growth slowed in December, easing labor shortages somewhat and limiting price pressures for finished goods and services," the beige book said. Retail sales, including auto sales, manufacturing and construction all exhibited weakness in the latest survey which will be used by the Federal Open Market Committee at its next meeting.

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