The Federal Reserve, in its periodic snapshot of the U.S. economy, said Wednesday business conditions display an overall "weaker pattern" with declines in consumer confidence, retail sales and business loan demands.

The survey, conducted by each of the 12 Federal Reserve districts, found economic activity declining in many of the regions after being sluggish in recent months."Several districts report a decline in consumer confidence and business confidence and many refer to expectations of continued diminution in economic activity," the Fed said in its "Beige Book."

Retail sales, after being adjusted for inflation, fell below year-ago levels in almost all of the 12 Federal Reserve districts, and manufacturing conditions and construction have weakened in most of the regions.

The Fed noted that soft domestic demand has been offset in part by strong export orders. Another bright spot was found in agriculture, which has been boosted by strong crop yields and high livestock prices.

Several districts also reported declines in business loan demands and some tightening of credit standards.

Retail sales have weakened throughout the United States. The Fed survey found the dollar volume of retail sales to be lower in most of the districts in October than a year ago in most of the 12 districts.

"At best, only slight icreases are reported in the rest of the districts," the Fed said.

Poor consumer confidence levels were attributed to retail sales declines in Chicago, Atlanta and St. Louis. Most of the districts reported that retailers were pessimistic about sales prospects for the vital Christmas season.

The Cleveland, Chicago and St. Louis districts noted "particular weakness" in the automobile industry. But again, weak domestic demand for manufactured goods was partially offset by strong export orders.