Fed Districts Report 'Modest' Growth - TheStreet

Fed Districts Report 'Modest' Growth

Retail sales are strong, but manufacturing is slow, the beige book says.
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districts reported only a modest or moderate expansion in economic activity in the last few weeks, while reports on retail sales tended to be strong and manufacturing was slow.

That information was contained in the latest version of the Fed's "beige book," a document that discusses conditions in the central bank's 12 districts.

Among the standout regions, New York reported steady growth and Minneapolis characterized the economic situation as firm. Dallas said growth was moderately strong.

Despite the positive news regarding retail sales, vehicle sales were mixed. As for the weakness in manufacturing, many districts described softness among businesses that support the residential construction sector.

Residential real estate activity continued to wane, with sales declining in many districts and flat in a number of others, the beige book said Wednesday. Boston, however, had improving residential markets, with some increases in sales volume. Commercial real estate markets were lively for the most part.

Demand for commercial and industrial loans increased, but the desire for residential mortgages was generally flat or slowing.

Activity in the energy and mining sectors remained at high levels since the previous version of the report, and most regions spoke of continuing tight labor market conditions, especially for skilled occupations.

Consumer prices remained generally stable or increased modestly, but most districts saw a rise in input prices, particularly for metals and raw materials, the Fed said.

The latest beige book was prepared at the St. Louis Fed and is based on information collected before April 16. The survey summarizes comments from businesses and other contacts outside the Fed, and it isn't intended to serve as a commentary on the views of central bank officials.