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U.S. Economic Activity Expands Nationwide, Beige Book

July 17, 2014, 06:50 AM
Filed Under: Economy

All twelve Federal Reserve Districts indicated that economic activity continued to expand since the previous report. The pace of economic growth was characterized as moderate in New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco, while the remaining Districts reported modest expansion. Compared to the previous reporting period, Boston and Richmond noted a slightly slower pace of growth. Most Districts were optimistic about the outlook for growth.

Excerpts From Report:

  • Activity in the nonfinancial services sector continued to grow across all Districts at a modest to moderate pace. Many Districts reported positive growth for professional and business services, including healthcare consulting, advertising, engineering, accounting, and technology.
  • Overall, transportation activity rose at a moderate pace since the previous survey period. Broad-based demand for trucking and rail services across the Districts increased, and the Richmond District reported strong growth in port container traffic, with increases in both imports and exports.
  • Manufacturing activity expanded in all twelve Districts. Contacts in the metal and auto industries generally reported positive growth, while manufacturers in the Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, and Chicago Districts reported increased demand for their products from the energy sector.
  • Loan volumes rose across the nation, with slight to moderate increases reported in most Districts. Credit quality remained stable or improved slightly in most Districts, while San Francisco noted a slight decline. Credit standards were generally unchanged, although Richmond noted an easing of cost terms for well-qualified commercial and industrial borrowers, and Philadelphia and Chicago mentioned that competitive pressures were leading some financial institutions to take on higher credit risks.
  • Among Districts reporting on agriculture, heavy rains improved soil moisture levels in the Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Dallas Districts, while drought conditions persisted in San Francisco. Most fall crops were reported in good or better condition, and expectations of higher production lowered crop prices. Profitability improved for livestock operators in the Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Kansas City Districts due to high cattle and hog prices. Oil production expanded in the Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Dallas Districts, while natural gas and coal production remained relatively steady in reporting Districts.

Banking and Financial Services

Overall, banking conditions improved slightly from the previous reporting period. Nearly all reporting Districts indicated increasing loan volumes. Loan demand was strongest in the New York, Chicago, and Dallas Districts, where loan volumes rose moderately compared with the previous report. Loan volumes increased modestly in the Richmond, Atlanta, St. Louis, and San Francisco Districts, while Philadelphia and Cleveland noted a slight uptick.

Commercial and industrial lending increased in the New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Chicago, and St. Louis Districts. However, commercial and industrial lending decreased slightly in the Kansas City District. Commercial real estate lending exhibited slight to moderate growth in the New York, Chicago, Dallas, and San Francisco Districts. Growth in residential real estate loan volumes was mixed across the System. New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Dallas reported growth, while Richmond, Atlanta, and Kansas City indicated slight declines in demand. Consumer lending increased in the New York, Philadelphia and St. Louis Districts, and construction lending expanded in the New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco Districts. Most Districts cited stable or slight improvement in credit quality, while Dallas and New York reported moderate and strong improvement, respectively. San Francisco was the only District with a reported decline in credit quality. Bankers in the New York and Atlanta Districts reported decreases in delinquency rates for all loan categories, with rates reaching pre-recession levels in the Atlanta District.

Credit standards remained generally unchanged in most Districts. Contacts in the Philadelphia District expressed a growing concern for loans with risky terms as a result of strong competition among banks to secure new loans. In addition, banking contacts in the Chicago District cited competitive pressure on structure and pricing for traditional and leveraged business lending, particularly from nonbank financial institutions willing to take on higher credit risk. Though Richmond indicated an easing of cost terms for well-qualified commercial and industrial borrowers, credit standards for mortgage lending were described as strict.

To read the full Beige Book Summary Release, click here.


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