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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Fed's Beige Book: Economic activity increased "at a modest to moderate pace"

by Calculated Risk on 12/04/2013 02:00:00 PM

Fed's Beige Book "Prepared at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and based on information collected on or before November 22, 2013. This document summarizes comments received from business and other contacts outside the Federal Reserve and is not a commentary on the views of Federal Reserve officials."

Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts indicated that the economy continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace from early October through mid-November. Activity in the New York, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and Dallas Districts grew at a moderate pace, while Philadelphia, Chicago, Kansas City, and San Francisco cited modest growth. Boston reported that economic activity continued to expand.
And on real estate:
Residential real estate activity improved in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and San Francisco, while remaining steady or softening in other Districts. Some slowing in single-family home sales was attributed to seasonal factors. Nonetheless, sales remain largely above year-ago levels. Increasing demand, low to declining levels of inventory, and slowly rising new-home construction were cited by almost all Districts as reasons for a continued rise in home prices, but at a slower pace than was observed earlier in 2013. Historically low inventories of unsold homes were reported in Philadelphia, Richmond, Chicago, Kansas City, and Dallas. Chicago noted that the inventory of homes for sale is at a record low. In the Philadelphia, Cleveland, Kansas City, and San Francisco Districts, builders continued to face a scarcity of high-skilled trade workers. Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, and Chicago indicated that multifamily construction continued to experience moderate to strong growth, with strength concentrated in the apartment segment. Vacancy rates declined across most Districts.

Commercial real estate activity remained stable or improved slightly across many Districts. Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Chicago, St. Louis, and Minneapolis all saw gains in industrial construction, while Boston, Chicago, and St. Louis cited a rise in hotel construction. The technology sector drove demand for commercial real estate in the San Francisco District, and Cleveland saw gains in affordable housing and shale-gas-related activity. The outlook of market participants is for continued improvement in the Philadelphia, Atlanta, Kansas City, and Dallas Districts, while contacts were cautiously optimistic in Boston and Cleveland.
emphasis added
Overall this was similar to the previous beige book with economic activity increasing at a "modest to moderate" pace.