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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Fed's Beige Book: Economic activity continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace

by Calculated Risk on 3/02/2011 02:00:00 PM

Fed's Beige Book:

Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts indicated that overall economic activity continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace in January and early February.
Retail sales increased in all Districts, except Richmond and Atlanta, although Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Kansas City noted that severe snowstorms had a negative impact on merchant activity.
All Districts, except St. Louis, experienced solid growth in manufacturing production, and new orders improved for Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, and San Francisco.
Manufacturing and retail contacts across Districts reported rising input costs. Manufacturers in many Districts conveyed that they were passing through higher input costs to customers or planned to do so in the near future. ... There is little evidence of wage pressures across Districts.
Labor market conditions continued to strengthen modestly, with all Districts reporting some degree of improvement. The Boston, Cleveland, Minneapolis, and Dallas Districts cited noticeable improvements in the manufacturing sector, and the Boston and Cleveland Districts also observed increased labor demand in the healthcare and medical sectors.
And on real estate:
Recent activity in residential real estate varied, but overall sales and construction remained at low levels across all Districts.
Reports on home prices were mixed. Atlanta and Kansas City observed persistent downward price pressure. Home prices continued to fall according to Philadelphia reports, but mainly at the high-end of the market. Cleveland and Chicago contacts described prices as little changed.
Commercial real estate activity showed signs of gaining traction according to a number of District reports. Boston, Chicago and Dallas reported that commercial real estate activity improved overall, while Richmond, Kansas City, and San Francisco noted increases in leasing activity. Kansas City described the market as stabilizing, while Philadelphia and Minneapolis reported that markets were flat overall, and New York described conditions as "slack" and St. Louis as "soft."
Still "modest to moderate expansion". The good news is "labor market conditions continued to strengthen", but unfortunately "modestly". The bad news is rising input costs. This was based on data gathered before February 18th (late January, early February).