April 16, 2012 (Chris Moore)
Overall economic growth continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace in all Federal Reserve Districts according to the latest edition of the Beige Book released by the Federal Reserve covering economic activity from mid-February through the beginning of April.
The Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and San Francisco Districts described activity as expanding at a moderate pace while St. Louis and Cleveland described activity in their Districts as modest. New York, Philadelphia and Richmond saw economic conditions improve while the Minneapolis and Kansas City Districts described their economic activity as growing at a solid pace and expanding at a faster pace.
Most Districts reported that manufacturing continued to show improved strength, with Boston and St. Louis reporting that manufacturing was mixed and Chicago reported that growth in production had leveled-off. Industries that reported increased sales in manufacturing included high-technology, cloud computing, automobiles and building materials.
Residential real estate construction activity remained at low levels with the exception of multi-family construction with apartments and senior housing reported to be expanding in many Districts. One contact in the Richmond District reported multi-family construction as being “on fire.”
Home prices remained weak or flat in Boston, New York, Minneapolis and San Francisco while several Districts reported that home prices continued to decline. Mild weather reportedly boosted housing activity in Boston, Philadelphia, and Kansas City.
Builder’s outlook was described as positive or slowing improving in Philadelphia, Cleveland, Atlanta, and Kansas City Districts while in Boston, builders were cautiously optimistic.
New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Chicago, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco reported that overall loan demand had improved.
Credit standards and quality were largely unchanged across the Districts with stable or improving loan quality reported from several Districts. Richmond reported bankers were offering easier credit terms to attract new borrowers. The Philadelphia and Cleveland Districts reported increased lending for multifamily housing.
Tags: Federal Reserve, Beige Book, housing market, real estate markets, single family homes, multifamily market, construction activity