Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fed's Beige Book: "Economic activity continued to expand moderately"

by Calculated Risk on 1/12/2011 02:00:00 PM

Fed's Beige Book:

Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts suggest that economic activity continued to expand moderately from November through December.
...
Contacts in the manufacturing sector in all Districts reported that activity continued to recover, with the Richmond and Chicago Districts citing especially solid gains in orders. However, the Boston, Atlanta, and Dallas Districts noted that business remained weak for manufacturers selling into the construction sector. Retailers in all Districts indicated that sales appeared to be higher in this holiday season than in 2009 and, in some cases, better than expectations.
And on real estate:
Activity in residential real estate and new home construction remained slow across all Districts. A majority of the Districts, including Boston, New York, Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco characterized local housing markets as weak and sluggish with little change from the previous reporting period.
...
High levels of existing home inventories continued to damp the pace of new home construction in most Districts reporting on construction, although Boston, Richmond, Dallas, and San Francisco mentioned pick-ups in multifamily construction within their Districts. Home prices generally declined or held steady in the New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Minneapolis, and San Francisco Districts; the New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and San Francisco Districts mentioned distressed properties placing downward pressure on prices.
...
Commercial real estate markets displayed mixed results across the Districts again this reporting period, as leasing markets exhibited increasing signs of recovery and nonresidential construction remained weak.
This fits with other recent data. One of the keys is the pick-up in multifamily construction - I expect this sector to provide some boost to GDP and employment this year.