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WASHINGTON - A pickup in consumer spending and steady home sales helped lift economic growth in October and early November in most parts of the United States, according to a Federal Reserve survey. The one exception was the Northeast, which was slowed by Superstorm Sandy.

The Fed says growth improved in nine of its 12 regional banking districts. Growth was weaker in New York, Philadelphia and Boston - areas where Sandy caused widespread disruptions.

The survey says growth improved despite nervousness about tax increases and spending cuts that could kick in next year if Congress and the Obama administration can't reach a budget deal before then.

It also noted that hiring increased in more than half of the districts. But manufacturing shrank or slowed in seven regions and was mixed in two others.