Federal Reserve Beige Book
The Federal Reserve said in its Beige Book report released today that the U.S. economy expanded modestly in January through mid-February as hiring picked up a bit across several districts.Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts suggest that overall economic activity continued to increase at a modest to moderate pace in January and early February. Activity expanded at a moderate pace in the Cleveland, Chicago, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco Districts. St. Louis noted a modest pace of growth and Minneapolis characterized the pace of growth as firm. Economic activity rose at a somewhat faster pace in the Philadelphia and Atlanta Districts, while the New York District noted a somewhat slower pace of expansion. The Boston and Richmond Districts, in turn, noted that economic activity expanded or improved in most sectors.
Commercial Real Estate
Commercial real estate markets displayed positive results in some Districts, as leasing showed overall improvement. Minneapolis, Richmond, Chicago, and Dallas noted increased leasing. Boston, however, reported mostly unchanged leasing fundamentals with some modest improvement since the previous report. Commercial vacancy rates were mixed in New York, decreased in Chicago, increased in St. Louis, and stayed high in San Francisco. Boston and Dallas noted limited levels of nonresidential construction, while Cleveland and Chicago noted improved nonresidential construction.
The Eleventh District economy continued to grow at a moderate pace, and outlooks were more positive than in the last report. Manufacturers reported increased activity. Demand for business services was solid, and activity in transportation services rose modestly. Housing and commercial real estate markets continued to improve. Overall building activity remained subdued, with the major exception being robust multifamily construction activity. Contacts said retail sales growth was tepid and automobile sales held steady. Financial services respondents said overall loan demand edged up. Energy activity was strong, and agricultural conditions improved. Employment levels were flat to up slightly. Price and wage pressures were modest.