Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fed's Beige Book: Economic activity increased "at a modest to moderate pace"

by Bill McBride on 7/17/2013 02:05:00 PM

Fed's Beige Book "Prepared at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and based on information collected on or before July 8, 2013."

Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts indicate that overall economic activity continued to increase at a modest to moderate pace since the previous survey. Manufacturing expanded in most Districts since the previous report, with many Districts reporting increases in new orders, shipments, or production. Most Districts noted that overall consumer spending and auto sales increased during the reporting period. Activity in a wide variety of nonfinancial services was stable or increased in most reporting Districts. Transportation was stable or increased in several Districts. Tourism remained strong in some reporting Districts, although several Districts noted softness from bad weather. Residential real estate and construction activity increased at a moderate to strong pace in all reporting Districts. Commercial real estate market conditions and construction continued to improve across the Districts. Banking conditions generally improved across the Districts. Credit quality improved, while credit standards remained largely unchanged. Agricultural conditions were mixed, as weather patterns varied, while extraction was generally stable or increased.
And on real estate:
Residential real estate activity increased at a moderate to strong pace in most Districts. Most Districts reported increases in home sales. Cleveland noted that June sales of single-family homes were down compared with earlier in the spring but up from last year. Boston, New York, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco noted strong residential real estate markets. Home prices increased throughout the majority of the reporting Districts. Boston, New York, Richmond, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Dallas noted low or declining home inventories and upward pressures on home prices in some areas. Residential construction activity also improved moderately across the Districts, and contacts in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco reported faster growth in multi-family construction, in particular.

Commercial real estate market conditions continued to improve across most Districts. New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and San Francisco reported modest to moderate improvements in nonresidential real estate activity. Dallas reported strong growth in leasing activity for office and industrial space. Boston and Richmond reported that commercial real estate conditions were holding steady or improving, depending on location. Nonresidential construction activity was stable or increased throughout the nation.
emphasis added
Residential real estate continues to be a strong sector for the economy.  Overall this was similar to the previous beige book with economic activity increasing at a "modest to moderate" pace.