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Beige Book Indicates Business Loan Demand Climbing as Economy Improves

January 12, 2012, 07:30 AM
Filed Under: Economy

Contact reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts suggest that national economic activity expanded at a modest to moderate pace during the reporting period of late November through the end of December.
Seven Districts characterized growth as modest; of the remaining five, New York and Chicago noted a pickup in the pace of growth, Dallas and San Francisco reported moderate growth, and Richmond indicated that activity flattened or
improved slightly.
Compared with prior summaries, the reports on balance suggest ongoing improvement in economic conditions in recent months, with most Districts highlighting more favorable conditions than identified in reports from the late spring through early fall.

Reports from financial institutions generally indicated a slight uptick in loan demand by businesses, along with improvements in overall credit quality.

Banking and Finance

Lending activity edged up overall, primarily due to increased loan demand by businesses. Most Districts that commented on lending activity indicated little or no change in overall loan demand, but the remaining Districts identified increases rather than decreases. New York reported a pronounced increase in demand for commercial mortgages, and Cleveland also noted increased demand in this category. Both Dallas and San Francisco noted a slight uptick in commercial and industrial lending.
Lending standards were largely unchanged across all lending categories. However, New York reported slight tightening for commercial and industrial loans. Moreover, a few reports highlighted that small businesses continued to struggle with credit access through banks. In the Atlanta District, some small businesses have turned to nonbank institutions for financing, and in the Chicago District some manufacturers have been financing loans to their suppliers from retained earnings. Credit quality improved in many Districts: New York reported a decline in delinquency rates for all loan categories, while Philadelphia, Richmond, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco all reported general improvement in loan quality.

The Beige Book report also provides detailed reports on activity in the following sectors: Manufacturing, Construction, Real Estate, Non-Financial Services, Agriculture, Natural Resources, Consumer Spending, and Tourism.

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