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YULE SPENDING HELPS ECONOMY KEEP EXPANDING

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In an upbeat report Wednesday, the Federal Reserve said the U.S. economy kept expanding during the final weeks of 1993 and showed signs of acceleration with robust spending by holiday shoppers.

Its periodic "Beige Book" report on the economy said spending on household items was particularly good. Manufacturing strengthened and hiring improved.In addition, home sales and construction grew heartily. Commercial real estate got better, too, but still remains generally sluggish.

Inflation remains not much of a problem.

"Economic activity continued to expand with signs of acceleration in some sectors," the Beige Book said. "Consumer spending, especially on household-related items, was strong during the holidays in most districts."

The Fed issues the report about every eight weeks. The report represents a summary of economic activity as a whole.