Daily News: July 18, 2012

Beige Book: Economic Activity Expands at Modest Pace


According to the Fed’s recently released Beige Book, reports from the twelve Federal Reserve districts suggest indicated that overall economic activity continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace in June and early July.

Highlights include:

Manufacturing & Capital Spending

Manufacturing continued to expand in June and early July in most Districts, but at a more modest pace compared with earlier in the year. Several Districts reported that new orders had moderated since the last report, but the Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Kansas City Districts were more optimistic that new orders would rebound. The Philadelphia and Richmond Districts however, reported declines in shipments and orders.

The passing of a transportation bill through Congress led contacts in the Philadelphia District to express interest in increasing their capital spending. Capacity utilization rates at refineries and petrochemical manufacturing facilities held steady in the San Francisco District, with weaker domestic demand being offset by growing exports. Meanwhile, manufacturers in the Dallas District reported operating at above 90% utilization rates to catch up with below-normal inventory levels.

Banking & Finance

Overall loan demand grew modestly in most Districts. New York indicated no change, while Richmond observed flat-to-weakening loan demand. Chicago, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco noted increased commercial and industrial lending, but lending in that sector decreased somewhat in the New York District and was characterized as soft in Cleveland and Atlanta.

Contacts in the New York, Richmond and Kansas City Districts reported that credit standards remained largely unchanged. Cleveland reported some loosening of auto lending guidelines, while San Francisco indicated credit standards were somewhat restrictive for businesses and consumer loans. Philadelphia, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco noted general improvements in credit quality. Delinquency rates held steady or declined in the New York and Cleveland Districts. Banking contacts in the Cleveland, Atlanta, Dallas, and San Francisco Districts noted stiff competition for quality loan customers. The Chicago District noted uncertainty over the effects of U.S. fiscal policy actions was reducing their customers’ demand for credit. Likewise, Dallas reported a slightly more pessimistic outlook than the previous Beige Book due in part to European debt issues and regulatory and political uncertainty.

To read the full Beige Book report click here.