'Beige Book': Delta slightly dampened growth

A report by the US Federal Reserve says the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus is putting a slight brake on the country's economic growth.

The Fed released its "Beige Book" on Wednesday. The regular report on US economic activity compiles assessments from its 12 districts.

It says, "Economic growth downshifted slightly to a moderate pace in early July through August."

That was because people cut back on their dining out and travel over "safety concerns due to the rise of the Delta variant."

All districts continued to report rising employment overall, although the pace of improvement varied by region.

As for the outlook, the Beige Book says, "Businesses in most districts remained optimistic about near-term prospects."

The Fed survey will be used by policymakers when they hold their next meeting later this month.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell has indicated that the central bank will start scaling back its quantitative-easing program by the end of the year if the economy continues to recover.

But analysts say a disappointing jobs report on last Friday could cause a delay.

A major question is over the severity of the economic fallout of the highly contagious Delta variant.