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Fed: Loan Demand Steady, Strong Housing and Auto Sales Boost Economy

April 18, 2013, 07:00 AM
Filed Under: Economy

According to the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts suggest overall economic activity expanded at a moderate pace during the reporting period from late February to early April. Activity in the Cleveland, Richmond, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and Kansas City Districts was characterized as growing at a moderate pace, while the Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, and San Francisco Districts noted modest growth. The New York and Dallas Districts indicated that the pace of expansion accelerated slightly since the previous Beige Book.

Manufacturing, Consumer Spending and Retail

Most Districts noted increases in manufacturing activity since the previous report. Particular strength was seen in industries tied to residential construction and automobiles, while several Districts reported uncertainty or weakness in defense-related sectors. Consumer spending grew modestly, and firms in some Districts cited higher gasoline prices, expiration of the payroll tax cut, and winter weather as factors restraining sales growth. Retailers in several Districts expect continued sales growth in the near term. Overall vehicle sales remained strong or increased, but sales of used automobiles declined in some Districts. Travel and tourism expanded across most reporting Districts, boosted by both business and leisure travel.

Banking and Finance

Loan demand was steady to slightly up at most District Banks that commented on lending. The Philadelphia District, however, said loan volumes softened somewhat since the previous report. The New York District noted widespread increases in loan demand, particularly for commercial loans and residential mortgages, and the Cleveland District said business and consumer loan demand picked up since the last report. The Dallas District saw broad-based improvement in loan demand as energy-related lending remained strong and commercial real estate and home equity lending bounced up from low levels. The San Francisco District said increased growth in automobile and mortgage loans spurred overall improvements in loan demand. Several Districts, including Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and San Francisco, said loan pricing was very competitive.

Most District banks said credit conditions remained favorable, with improved credit quality for business and consumer loans.

Read the full Beige Book Report.

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