WASHINGTON – The economic recovery gained traction in late fall as shoppers spent a bit more and factories bumped up production. That assessment Wednesday by the Federal Reserve marked its most upbeat view since the economy tumbled into recession two years ago.
Eight of the Fed's 12 regions surveyed reported some pickup in activity or improved conditions, the Fed said. Those regions were: Boston, New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas and San Francisco.
The four other regions — Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond and Atlanta — described conditions as little changed or mixed.
The main challenge for Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who will be on Capitol Hill on Thursday seeking confirmation for a second term, is to sustain the fledgling rebound, especially after the benefits of government support fade next year.