by Bill McBride on 8/29/2012
Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts suggest economic activity continued to expand gradually in July and early August across most regions and sectors. Six Districts indicated the local economy continued to expand at a modest pace and another three cited moderate growth; among the latter, Chicago noted that the pace of growth had slowed from the prior period.
This is a downgrade from the previous beige book that reported “modest to moderate” growth.
And on real estate:
Housing markets across most Districts exhibited signs of improvement, with sales and construction continuing to increase. Dallas reported significant levels of buyer traffic, Richmond noted strong pending sales, and Minneapolis and St. Louis mentioned increases in building permits. New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago indicated improvements as well, but characterized the progress as slow and modest. Declines in inventory levels were reported in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas, and San Francisco; these declining inventories put some upward pressure on prices according to Boston, Atlanta, and Dallas. A reduction in the stock of distressed properties was mentioned in New York, Richmond, and San Francisco. In Philadelphia and Kansas City, the possibility of shadow inventory entering the market remains a concern. In general, outlooks were positive, with continued increases in activity expected, although the projected gains were more modest in Boston, Cleveland, and Kansas City.
Commercial real estate market conditions held steady or improved in nearly all Districts in recent weeks.
“Prepared at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and based on information collected on or before August 20, 2012.”
Another downgrade … from “moderate growth” two reports ago, to “modest to moderate” in the last report … and now “expand gradually”. On the positive side, there were more positive comments about residential real estate.