WASHINGTON, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- U.S. economic activity continued to expand at a modest pace from late November through the end of last year, the latest survey result released by the Federal Reserve showed on Wednesday.

"Reports from the 12 Federal Reserve Districts indicated that the economy continued to expand at a modest pace across most regions," said the Fed in its latest Beige Book which gauges its 12 districts' economy.

The survey showed that firms across the country and industries were optimistic about growth in 2017.

According to the survey, most districts reported growing retail sales and increased sales for the manufacturing industry, while residential construction and sales were generally mixed.

Labor markets were reported to be tight or tightening, with wages growing modestly. With the tight job markets, pricing pressures intensified, said the report.

Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen said on Wednesday that the U.S. economy is close to full employment and inflation is heading toward the central bank's 2-percent target. She noted that it makes sense for the Fed to gradually lift interest rates.