July 23, 2012 (Chris Moore)
Current economic activity was described as expanding at a modest to moderate pace from the beginning of June through the beginning of July in all twelve Federal Reserve Districts according to the latest edition of the Beige Book released by the Federal Reserve.
The Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Dallas Districts described activity as expanding at a moderate pace while Atlanta, St. Louis, and San Francisco described activity in their Districts as modest. New York, Philadelphia, and Cleveland reported that the rate of expansion in their Districts was still expanding, but at a slower pace.
Most Districts reported that manufacturing continued to expand slowly with the Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago, and Kansas City districts reporting a slight increase in manufacturing production while the Philadelphia and Richmond Districts reported a decline in new orders.
Consumers were spending more in most of the Districts except for Boston, Cleveland and New York. Most of the increase in sales was attributed to higher auto sales. Other industries that reported growth were travel and tourism, technology, and non-financial services.
Several Districts, New York, Atlanta, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco reported new home construction had increased during the latest reporting period, while in Cleveland housing starts were reported as down.
Multi-family construction continued to be a bright spot as demand for apartment rentals strengthened in most Districts. San Francisco, Atlanta and Chicago reported increases in multi-family construction and Dallas expected construction to pick up over the next several months.
Residential home sales were described as improving in Philadelphia, New York, Richmond, Chicago, St. Louis, and Minneapolis while home sales were reported to have increased in the Boston, Cleveland, Atlanta, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco Districts.
Most Districts reported that home prices had begun to stabilize as the inventory of homes declines. Two Districts, Boston and Atlanta, reported problems with appraisals coming in below market prices.
Overall loan demand was reported as growing modestly with New York and Cleveland reporting loan demand in their Districts as flat or weakening. Most Districts reported an increase in mortgage lending with refinancing activity reported to be steady or increasing in New York, Cleveland, Richmond, and Chicago while Philadelphia noted a recent slowdown.
Most Districts reported that credit quality remained essentially unchanged from the previous report with Philadelphia, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco reporting a general improvement in credit quality while loan delinquencies across most Districts continued to decline.
Tags: Federal Reserve, Beige Book, housing market, real estate markets, single family homes, multifamily market, construction activity