WASHINGTON -- The economy continued its slow improvement through the end of July, but gains were spotty and some regions of the United States remained weak, the Federal Reserve Board reported yesterday.

Although the report -- the Fed's so-called beige book -- says that in some ways business conditions were mixed, the overall tone seemd less optimistic than that of the last report, issued June 19, which said the economy appeared to be improving modestly in much of the United States.

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