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Japan turmoil disrupting U.S., Fed survey finds

WASHINGTON — The Japanese earthquake may be having more of an impact on the U.S. economy than previously believed, according to the Federal Reserve’s latest Beige Book survey of current economic conditions released on Wednesday.

A majority of the Fed’s 12 regional districts reported “actual or expected disruptions to sales and production” as a result of the Japan earthquake.

Surprisingly, most of the districts that reported difficulty as a result of the Japan tragedy were on the East Coast or in the middle of the country.

There were no reports of disruptions in California.

The Minneapolis Fed said it was surprised when a quick survey of the factories in its district showed that 41 percent of them indicated that they had been unfavorably impacted by the disaster in Japan. One contact said that plastic resin shipments had been delayed.

In many instances, businesses had not yet directly felt any impact from Japan but were pretty sure it was just around the corner.

In Boston, firms that use electronic components in their production seemed the most concerned.

“Inputs from Japan are expected to be in short supply soon, if they are not already,” the Boston Fed reported.

In Atlanta, the auto and information technology sector saw temporary interruptions on the horizon.

The Fed made no effort to quantify the impact.

The Fed Beige Book is a collection of anecdotal reports from business contracts in all regions of the country. It is designed to give Fed officials a feel for conditions as they prepare for their next Federal Open Market Committee meeting on April 26-27. It is supplemented by many more detailed reports that are not made public until five years after the meeting.

Overall, the Beige Book found that activity generally continued to improve since early March although some districts reported only moderate gains while others were more upbeat.

More businesses were trying to pass along higher costs to consumers but were having mixed success.


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