U.s.Economy

All Areas of the Country Show Growth, Fed Reports

The U.S. economy started the year off well with busier factories, higher retail sales, more jobs and growth in home sales. The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that all 12 of its banking districts reported some level of growth in January and the first half of February. Manufacturing output rose in all districts. Auto manufacturing, steel makers and other metal producers all reported solid growth.

Manufacturing Expands at Fastest Pace Since June

U.S. factories grew in January at the fastest pace in seven months, boosted by a rise in new orders. And builders ended a poor year for construction by spending more on homes and projects for the fifth straight month. The reports bolster other data showing the U.S. economy started the year strong.

Factory Orders Rise, but Business Investment Slips

Orders for factory-made goods that signal business investment plans fell for a second straight month, part of a mixed report on manufacturing in November. The drop in demand for so-called core capital goods was offset by a sharp rise in volatile airplane orders. That lifted overall factory orders 1.8 percent, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

Fed Takes No New Action at Final Meeting of 2011

The Federal Reserve says the economy has grown moderately as hiring and consumer spending have improved. As a result, it's holding off on any new steps to boost the economy. But Fed officials, noting that unemployment remains high and global economic growth has slowed, left open the possibility of taking new steps next year if the economy worsens.

How U.S. Debt Stacks Up Against Other Nations

It's true that the U.S. has racked up the largest debt of any other developed country. But when you consider the debt in relation to the country's gross domestic product, it's only No. 7 on the list, according to Fortune.