Home/Mortgages/Beige Book: Economy Growing at Slow to Moderate Pace

December 1, 2011 (Chris Moore)

Economic activity was reported as increasing at a slow to moderate pace in all Federal Reserve Districts except St. Louis according to the latest edition of the Beige Book released by the Federal Reserve.

Most Districts reported an up-tick in retail sales with retailers generally more positive than they were at the beginning of October. Kansas City, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Minneapolis, and San Francisco reported gains in retail sales, while New York reported same-store sales were mostly on or ahead of plan. Dallas reported that retail growth sales had moderated, while Atlanta and St. Louis reported weaker sales.

Auto sales were reported as either gaining or holding steady in most Districts, with Chicago reporting a slowdown in the pace of sales in November.

Residential real estate activity improved since the last report, but varied across the Districts, with Philadelphia, Richmond, Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Dallas reporting improved activity while New York, Boston, Cleveland, and San Francisco reported flat activity at relatively low levels. Atlanta and St. Louis reported decreased sales.

Residential construction remained sluggish as single-family home construction remained at low levels while multi-family housing construction continued to be the bright spot in a dismal housing construction picture with the New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago, and Minneapolis Districts reporting that construction of multi-family housing had improved.

Multi-family construction in St. Louis and Kansas City were at decreased levels while San Francisco’s activity was described as “anemic.”

Overall loan demand increased slightly since the last report with several districts reporting an increase in mortgage refinancing. New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Kansas City reported increased loan demand while Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, and San Francisco noted relatively unchanged loan demand. Atlanta reported loan demand was soft.

Credit standards and quality varied across the Districts with stable or improving loan quality reported in Philadelphia, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco.

Tags: Federal Reserve, Beige Book, housing market, real estate markets, single family homes, multifamily market, construction activity

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