Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Fed's Beige Book: "Economic activity expanded in most Districts"

by Bill McBride on 3/02/2016 02:36:00 PM

Fed's Beige Book "Prepared at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and based on information collected before February 22, 2016."

Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts continued to indicate that economic activity expanded in most Districts since the previous Beige Book report. Economic growth increased moderately in Richmond and San Francisco and at a modest pace in Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago, and Minneapolis. Philadelphia reported a slight increase in economic activity, and St. Louis described conditions as mixed. Most contacts in Boston cited higher sales or revenues than a year-ago but mixed results since the previous month. New York and Dallas described economic activity as flat, and Kansas City noted a modest decline in activity. Across the nation, business contacts were generally optimistic about future economic growth.
And on real estate:
Residential real estate sales were up since the last report across all Districts, with the exception of New York and Kansas City where sales were somewhat weaker in part due to normal seasonal patterns. The Boston, Cleveland, St. Louis, and San Francisco Districts reported strong growth in sales, and contacts in Boston and Cleveland cited relatively mild winter weather as a positive contribution to growth. Low- to moderately-priced homes sold better than higher-priced homes in Cleveland, Kansas City, and Dallas. ... Residential construction generally strengthened since the previous survey period, with only Philadelphia and Kansas City reporting declines.

Districts characterized nonresidential real estate sales and leasing growth as flat to strong. Contacts in Cleveland cited growth in demand from the healthcare and higher education sectors and to a lesser extent the manufacturing, commercial real estate (excluding office buildings) and multifamily housing sectors. Commercial occupancy rates rose in San Francisco, spurring higher lease rates and additional construction projects. Commercial vacancy rates were nearing or below prerecession levels in Minneapolis despite significant new commercial real estate construction, and St. Paul saw more commercial net absorption in the last year than in the previous ten years combined. Similarly, industrial vacancy rates decreased across the Cleveland, St. Louis, and Dallas Districts. Demand for commercial real estate space grew robustly in Chicago across retail, industrial and office segments, but there was concern that the lack of commercial construction and increased demand would lead to space shortages and price bubbles. Commercial leasing activity in Boston was steady, and fundamentals remained strong. Richmond commercial leasing activity increased moderately for the retail market since the previous report, while activity in the office and industrial markets was tepid. Commercial rents increased in Philadelphia, and contacts in Atlanta noted generally improving rents as well as increased absorption.
emphasis added
Real Estate growth in most districts was decent ...