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FED SEES SLUGGISH ECONOMY

A Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday showed the economy in all regions of the country is either declining or growing sluggishly at November's end.

Both retail sales and construction activity were found to be weak in virtually all of the central bank's 12 districts in its so-called "Beige Book" assessment of the nation's economic pulse.

The report was the latest piece of evidence that the economy has weakened in recent months, as shown by symptoms including widespread layoffs, a decline in consumer spending and difficulty in obtaining loans from banks. Many private economists have asserted a recession has begun.

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