msnbc.com news services
updated 9/8/2010 3:40:53 PM ET 2010-09-08T19:40:53

More regions of the country reported slower growth as the U.S. economy lost momentum in the late summer, the Federal Reserve said.

The Fed’s “Beige Book” survey, released Wednesday afternoon, finds the weakness spreading. Of the 12 regions tracked by the Fed, economic activity was mixed or slowed in five — New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta and Chicago. Activity elsewhere was described as modest or pointed to positive developments.

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In the Fed’s previous survey in late July, only two regions — Atlanta and Chicago — had reported slower growth.

Although the economy was still growing in late summer, there were “widespread signs of deceleration,” the Fed said. The report breaks down economic activity across the country by region.

The Fed has been cautious in its statements about the economy in recent months.

Shortly after the Fed’s report was released, President Barack Obama spoke on the economy in Cleveland, strongly defending his opposition to extending Bush-era tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and delivered a searing attack on Republicans and their House leader for advocating “the same philosophy that led to this mess in the first place.”

Obama said the struggling U.S. economy can't afford to spend $700 billion to keep lower tax rates in place for the nation's highest earners despite a call by House Minority Leader John Boehner and other GOP leaders to do just that.

Story: In Ohio, Obama defends tax stance, slams GOP

Speaking in the same city where Boehner, an Ohio Republican, recently ridiculed Obama's economic stewardship, Obama said Boehner's policies amount to no more than “cut more taxes for millionaires and cut more rules for corporations.”

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Video: ‘Beige Book’ analysis

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