Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fed's Beige Book: Economic activity increased at "modest to moderate" pace, Residential real estate "activity improved"

by Bill McBride on 4/11/2012 02:00:00 PM

Fed's Beige Book:

Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts indicated that the economy continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace from mid-February through late March. Activity in the Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and San Francisco Districts grew at a moderate pace, while Cleveland and St. Louis cited modest growth. New York reported that economic growth picked up somewhat. Philadelphia and Richmond cited improving business conditions. The economy in Minneapolis grew at a solid pace and Kansas City's economy expanded at a faster pace.
And on real estate:
Residential real estate activity improved in most Districts, though Cleveland and San Francisco noted that activity remained lackluster or at low levels. The St. Louis and Minneapolis Districts reported increases in building permits. The construction of multi-family housing units, including apartments and senior housing, expanded in many Districts. Home prices continued to decline in Boston, New York, and Minneapolis, but were largely flat in San Francisco. Contacts in Boston, Philadelphia, and Kansas City indicated that mild weather had boosted real estate activity.

Non-residential construction activity improved in the Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, and St. Louis Districts, though many of these contacts characterized the improvement as slow. Boston, New York, and San Francisco characterized non-residential real estate activity as unchanged or steady. The energy and high-tech sectors were driving much of the demand in the Dallas District. San Francisco noted a rise in the demand for office space from the technology sector. Cleveland and Chicago saw a boost in healthcare-related construction. Projects related to the education sector are showing growth in Boston, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Richmond. The outlook of builders is described as positive or slowly improving in the Philadelphia, Cleveland, Atlanta, and Kansas City Districts, and as cautiously optimistic in Boston.
Prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland based on information collected on or before April 2, 2012. Mostly sluggish growth, but some positive comments on residential real estate ...

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