Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Fed's Beige Book: Economic Activity Expanded, No "distinct shift in the overall pace of growth"

by Bill McBride on 9/03/2014 02:00:00 PM

Fed's Beige Book "Prepared at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and based on information collected on or before August 22, 2014."

Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts indicated that economic activity has expanded since the previous Beige Book report; however, none of the Districts pointed to a distinct shift in the overall pace of growth. The New York, Cleveland, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco Districts characterized their growth rates as moderate; Philadelphia, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Kansas City reported modest growth. Boston reported that business activity appeared to be improving, and Richmond reported further strengthening. Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, and Dallas explicitly reported that contacts in their Districts generally remained optimistic about future growth; most of the other Districts cited various examples of ongoing optimism from specific sectors.
And on real estate:
Barely half of the Districts reported stable or growing residential real estate activity related to the construction of new homes and sales of existing houses. New construction and existing home sales generally grew modestly; market conditions tended to vary by metropolitan area and by neighborhood within metropolitan areas. Boston, New York, and Dallas reported high levels of ongoing multifamily construction projects; Chicago reported a moderate pace of growth, and San Francisco noted a pickup in activity.

A little over half of the Districts reported some degree of growth in nonresidential real estate activity, with increased construction, leasing, or both tied to steady or falling vacancy rates and to rent increases. None of the Districts reported a decline in overall activity, although New York and St. Louis described activity as mixed. In addition to traditional office space, certain Districts reported increased demand for specific projects: Boston noted demand for construction in the hospitality sector, Philadelphia cited industrial and warehouse projects, Richmond noted distribution centers, and St. Louis reported new retail and mixed-use projects as well as new industrial facility construction.
emphasis added
Very cautious comments on residential real estate, although nonresidential is seeing some growth.

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