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US Economy Shrinks a Bit More Slowly

A new study shows the U.S. economy is still shrinking, but pace of decline is slowing down.

Experts at the U.S. central bank (Federal Reserve) came to that conclusion, after a routine series of interviews with businesses across the nation.

They published their findings Wednesday in a report called the "Beige Book," which helps officials make decisions on interest rates and other issues.

A separate report showed U.S. consumer prices declined over the 12-month period that ended in March. It is the first time the cost of living has declined on an annual basis in about half a century.

Wednesday's report from the Labor Department showed prices falling four-tenths of a percent for the year, as slumping demand pushed food and energy prices down.

A separate report showed U.S. industrial production dropping 1.5 percent in March as businesses cut orders and inventory to cope with falling demand.

The report also says just over 69 percent of U.S. factory capacity is being used, which is the lowest level since officials began keeping such records in 1967.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.