WASHINGTON – The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that the economy gained strength across much of the country as hiring improved, manufacturing expanded and retailers anticipated a stronger holiday shopping season.

Five Fed banks, including Boston and San Francisco, said the economy grew “at a slight to modest” rate, while five others, including New York and Chicago, reported a “somewhat stronger pace of economic activity.” Conditions were reported as “mixed” in the Philadelphia and St. Louis regions.

The report, based on anecdotal information, signals an improvement in the economy after sluggish growth in the summer prompted the Fed last month to announce $600 billion in asset purchases to help cut unemployment persisting near 10 percent.

The positive outlook from 10 banks contrasts with the October report in which eight Fed banks, including San Francisco and Chicago, reported growth. At the time, the Philadelphia and Richmond Fed banks said their economies were “mixed” while the Cleveland region “held steady” and the Atlanta district “remained slow.”

The Beige Book report reflects information collected on or before Nov. 19 and is summarized by the Cleveland Fed. The survey will be considered by Federal Open Market Committee policy makers before their next meeting on Dec. 14, when they will review their asset purchase program.

The Fed’s Nov. 3 decision to undertake new bond purchases sparked a political backlash. Last month, two Republicans, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., proposed removing the Fed’s full employment mandate to focus the central bank on stable prices alone. Corker plans to introduce legislation next year.

At its November meeting, the Fed said “the pace of recovery in output and employment continues to be slow” and that household spending remains constrained by “high unemployment, modest income growth, lower housing wealth, and tight credit.”

“Hiring activity showed some improvement across most districts,” it said, and “employers are waiting for clearer signals of expanding business prospects before adding significantly to payrolls.”