In the Beige Book report on current economic conditions, the central bank painted, if not an upbeat picture of the economy, one better than the previous assessment that warned of signs the recovery was slowing.
"Reports from the 12 Federal Reserve Districts suggest that, on balance, national economic activity continued to rise, albeit at a modest pace, during the reporting period from September to early October," the report said.
The Beige Book will be used by the Fed's policymakers at a meeting next month.
Bernanke just days ago ramped up talk of intervention to support growth amid high unemployment, a battered housing market and tight credit.
At the last FOMC meeting on September 21, the Fed said it would continue to hold its main interest rate at virtually zero "for an extended period."
But it warned it anticipated the need for additional stimulus, after the Beige Book warned the recover was showing "widespread" signs of slowing.
The latest Beige Book cast the recovery as subdued.
Consumer spending, which represents about 70 percent of US economic activity, was essentially stalled as retailers gear up for the year-end holiday season.
Retail spending was "flat to moderately positive" in most districts, the report said.
"Retailers said consumers are slowly regaining confidence, but remain price-conscious and were largely limiting purchases to necessities and nondiscretionary items."
With unemployment stuck near 10 percent, the central bank offered little hope on the jobs front.
"Hiring remained limited, with many firms reluctant to add to permanent payrolls given economic softness," the report said.
Manufacturing, the sector leading the recovery that began in July 2009 from the worst recession since the Great Depression, that ended in June 2009, was still a bright spot.
Manufacturing activity "continued to expand" and several districts reported gains in production or new orders across a "wide range" of industries.
But the housing market, which collapsed three years ago amid a price bubble, was worse off than in the same period a year earlier.
"Housing markets remained weak" with most districts reporting sales below year-ago levels, while reports on prices suggested stability, the report said.
Jon Ogg at 24/7WallSt.com questioned whether the Fed's looming new round of quantitative easing, dubbed QE2, was warranted.
"The newest Beige Book from the Federal Reserve might make you wonder why on Earth quantitative easing is necessary," he said.
"Low growth is still OK, but the jobs issue is still front and center. Will quantitative easing and lower and lower rates force hiring?"
Source: AFP Global Edition