Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Fed's Beige Book: "Modest economic growth" in most Districts

by Bill McBride on 6/01/2016 02:03:00 PM

Fed's Beige Book "Prepared at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and based on information collected before May 23, 2016. "

Information received from the 12 Federal Reserve Districts mostly described modest economic growth since the last Beige Book report. Economic activity in April through mid-May increased at a moderate pace in the San Francisco District, while modest growth was reported by Philadelphia, Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, and Minneapolis. Chicago noted that the pace of growth slowed, as did Kansas City. Dallas reported that economic activity grew marginally, while New York characterized activity as generally flat since the last report. Several Districts noted that contacts had generally optimistic outlooks, with firms expecting growth either to continue at its current pace or to increase.
And on real estate:
Construction and real estate activity generally expanded since the last report, and the overall outlook among contacts remained positive. Commercial construction activity increased in Philadelphia, Richmond, and Minneapolis. Strong project pipelines were reported in Cleveland, and some contractors in Atlanta noted one- to two-year backlogs. An uptick in industrial construction was cited in St. Louis, while activity was varied across markets in Boston. Residential construction increased in most Districts but was mixed in Richmond and Dallas, where some markets saw a decline in single-family construction. In Chicago, a slight increase in residential construction was concentrated in single-family and suburban markets. St. Louis contacts reported an uptick in residential construction, and many contacts expected a similar increase next quarter. Multifamily construction continued to grow in many Districts, including New York, St. Louis, and Dallas, but a slowing was noted in Atlanta. In San Francisco, construction of multifamily units continued to outpace single-family units. In Boston, apartment construction remained very active, but related lending slowed among smaller banks.

Commercial real estate activity increased in most Districts that reported. Absorption of space increased in Atlanta and Kansas City, while Dallas reported healthy demand for office space. A decline in vacancy rates and a rise in rents were noted in Chicago and Minneapolis. Contacts in San Francisco said demand for commercial real estate expanded further, particularly in urban areas with robust technology and health care industries. Residential real estate activity increased moderately across most Districts. Home sales were strong in Boston, Cleveland, Kansas City, and San Francisco. Residential sales were positive but somewhat lower in other Districts. Sales for entry-level and other lower-priced homes were particularly strong, according to Chicago and Dallas contacts. Lower inventories of homes were reported by contacts in New York, Cleveland, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Minneapolis and have led to bidding wars in the Richmond District and constrained home sales in Philadelphia. Home prices were reported higher overall; Cleveland contacts said that home prices rose 3 percent year over year. In Philadelphia, home prices were mixed across markets and price categories.
emphasis added
Decent Real Estate growth in most districts ...