1:10 p.m.
Saturday, 17 February 2018

U.S. economic activity generally expanded at a modest to moderate pace: Beige Book

Los Angeles, California.- Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts indicated that economic activity generally expanded at a modest to moderate pace since the previous Beige Book.

Five Districts reported that economic growth was moderate in January and early February, and five Districts reported that activity expanded at a modest pace. The Boston District said the economy continued to expand slowly, and the Chicago District reported that economic activity grew at a slow pace.

Most Districts reported expansion in consumer spending, although retail sales slowed in several Districts. Automobile sales were strong or solid most Districts, and tourism strengthened in a number of Districts.

The demand for services was generally positive across Districts, most notably for technology and logistics firms. Transportation services activity was mixed among Districts, although the majority of contacts were optimistic about future activity. Manufacturing modestly improved in most regions, with several Districts reporting strong demand from the auto, food, and residential construction industries. Residential real estate markets strengthened in nearly all Districts and home prices rose amid falling inventories across much of the country.

Commercial real estate activity was mixed or improved slightly in most Districts, and financing for commercial development remained widely available. Overall loan demand was stable or slightly higher across nearly all Districts, and several bankers noted stiff competition for qualified borrowers. Agricultural conditions varied across the country, with some areas continuing to suffer from drought while others reported considerable precipitation and improved soil moisture levels. Districts reporting on energy activity indicated modest expansions in crude oil and natural gas exploration, while mining activity slowed.

Price pressures remained modest, with the exception of increases in prices for certain raw materials and slightly higher retail prices in several Districts. Even with some input costs rising, most District contacts did not plan to increase selling prices.

The majority of Districts reported modest improvements in labor market conditions, although hiring plans were limited in several Districts. Wage pressures were mostly limited, but some contacts reported upward pressure for skilled positions in certain industries due to worker shortages.


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