Economy Briefs: Job openings dipped in August from July

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ECONOMY

Fed: Housing lifts growth in most U.S. regions

Stronger housing markets helped boost economic growth at the end of the summer in nearly every region of the United States, according to a Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday.

The Fed said growth improved in 10 of its 12 regional banking districts from mid-August through September while leveling off in one region and slowing in another. Rising home sales helped lift home prices in most districts.

The report, known formally as the Beige Book, also cited an increase in auto sales in most parts of the country. Still, consumer spending was flat or up only slightly in most districts. Manufacturing activity was mixed, with half of the districts reporting slight improvement since the previous Fed report. Hiring was unchanged in most districts.

SPAIN

S&P cuts rating to lowest investment grade

NEW YORK — Standard & Poor’s is downgrading Spain’s credit rating two notches to the agency’s lowest investment-grade level.

S&P says it is lowering its rating on debt issued by Spain from BBB+ to BBB-. It also assigned a negative outlook to the rating, meaning it could be downgraded further.

S&P cited Spain’s economic recession, high unemployment and social unrest. It said those factors are limiting the government’s policy options.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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