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Economic activity slowing across the state

By ?CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER
AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — The economy has slowed in several U.S. regions for the first time this year, according to a Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday. The Fed’s report finds that economic activity grew in all 12 regions of the country, but growth slowed in four districts. It was the weakest survey since last fall.

The survey, released Wednesday and known as the Beige Book, is based on information collected from the Fed’s 12 regional bank districts. The report covers a roughly seven-week period from April 5 through May 27. Here Wisconsin and Minnesota’s highlights:

Economic activity grew at a slower pace than earlier this year in the Midwest. Auto dealers reported much smaller inventories of Japanese cars, due to production disruptions caused by the March 11 Japanese earthquake. That is pushing up used car prices and benefiting the Detroit automakers’ car sales.

In Minnesota, economic activity grew steadily. Consumer spending, tourism and manufacturing all improved. Energy and mining activity is up: Oil exploration activity increased in May, and two new natural gas processing plants are planned for North Dakota. Mines in northern Minnesota and in Montana were operating at or near full capacity.

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