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Fed: Economy Expanding Moderately; CAPEX Plans Remain Unsettled

January 17, 2013, 07:05 AM
Filed Under: Economy

Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts indicated that economic activity has expanded since the previous Beige Book report, with all twelve Districts characterizing the pace of growth as either modest or moderate. Since the previous Beige Book, activity in the New York and Philadelphia Districts rebounded from the immediate impacts of Hurricane Sandy. Growth in the Boston, Richmond, and Atlanta Districts appears to have increased slightly, while the St. Louis District reports some slowing.

Activity among nonfinancial service sectors improved overall. Firms within the six Districts reporting on transportation services generally noted increased volumes. Manufacturing was mixed overall since the previous Beige Book; six Districts reported an expansion of activity and three reported a decrease. Among Districts reporting on their firms' near-term expectations, the manufacturing outlook remained generally optimistic; however, capital spending plans were less uniformly positive.

Banking and Finance

Overall, loan demand was largely unchanged in the Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Kansas City, and San Francisco Districts, with most of these Districts reporting a continuation of slight to moderate growth in total volume. The New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and Dallas Districts reported stronger demand than previously, while the St. Louis District reported a slight decline. Some increased lending in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Dallas was driven by businesses taking out loans for special year-end purposes such as tax planning and dividend payments.

Banks in the New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago, Kansas City, and San Francisco Districts reported improvements in asset quality. Lenders were described as competing aggressively for highly qualified borrowers in Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, and San Francisco. In Atlanta, this stiff competition may be leading to loosening credit standards, as there was some indication that banks were more willing to increase their tolerance for risk. Chicago banks also reported some loosening of standards. On the other hand, lending standards remained largely unchanged in New York, Cleveland, and Kansas City.

Read the full January Beige Book Report.

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