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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Fed's Beige Book: Economic Growth "modest to moderate", Some Housing Weakness

by Calculated Risk on 10/24/2018 02:05:00 PM

Fed's Beige Book "This report was prepared at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond based on information collected on or before October 15, 2018. "

Economic activity expanded across the United States, with the majority of Federal Reserve Districts reporting modest to moderate growth. New York and St. Louis indicated slight growth, overall, while Dallas reported robust growth driven by strong manufacturing, retail, and nonfinancial services activity. On balance, manufacturers reported moderate output growth; however, several Districts indicated that firms faced rising materials and shipping costs, uncertainties over the trade environment, and/or difficulties finding qualified workers. Demand for transportation services remained strong. Labor shortages were broadly noted and were linked to wage increases and/or constrained growth. Reports on commercial and residential real estate were mixed, although several Districts saw rising home prices and low levels of inventory.
And some signs of weaker housing market, as an example:
Single-family home sales were steady to down modestly in the suburbs around New York, including northern New Jersey. One contact ascribed some of this weakness to changes in federal tax law that limit deductibility of homeowner costs.

The inventory of homes on the market has risen throughout most of the District--particularly for smaller units in New York City. Still, current inventory levels remain quite low, particularly in upstate New York. Home price trends have been mixed, with values continuing to rise in upstate New York, Long Island, and northern New Jersey, but holding steady across New York City and its northern suburbs. Prices of new condos in New York City, as well as prices at the high end of the condo market more generally, have weakened noticeably.
emphasis added