Fed Releases Monthly "Beige Book"
WASHINGTON (4/12/12) The nation's economy continued to expand, growing at a "modest to moderate pace" from mid-February through late March, the Federal Reserve said in its monthly "Beige Book," for the third month in a row.
The Beige Book
, prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, is based on anecdotal reports from the 12 Federal Reserve Districts. Information was collected before April 2.
All districts reported growth, with manufacturing continuing to expand in most districts, especially in automotive and high technology industries. Manufacturers were "somewhat concerned about rising petroleum prices." Demand for professional business services also showed modest to strong growth, said the Beige Book.
Rising Gas Prices Could Limit Spending
Reports on retail spending were positive, bolstered with unusually warm weather, the Fed said. However, "while the near-term outlook for household spending was encouraging, contacts in several districts expressed concerns that rising gas prices could limit discretionary spending in months to come," it added.
- New vehicle sales were strong or strengthening across most of the U.S.
- Tourism increased in most districts.
- Residential real estate improved some, with many of the district contacts citing expansion in multi-family housing industry.
Banking conditions remained stable with modest improvements in demand for lending, said the report. Demand for commercial and industrial loans remained steady while several districts reported an increase in commercial real estate lending activity. Consumer lending remained stable or rose modestly across a few districts. Several districts reported increased credit quality, with delinquencies continuing to decline and few problem loans reported.
Overall wage growth was "constrained," and overall price inflation was modest, said the Beige Book. Hiring was steady, but several districts reported difficulty in finding qualified workers for high-skill positions, it said.
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