Daily News: January 11, 2012

Beige Book: Economy Improves; Business Loan Demand Up

Economic activity expanded at a modest to moderate pace across most of the country during the reporting period of late November through the end of December, according to the Federal Reserve.

Seven districts characterized growth as modest; of the remaining five, New York and Chicago noted a pickup in the pace of growth, Dallas and San Francisco reported moderate growth, and Richmond indicated that activity flattened or improved slightly.

Lending activity edged up overall, primarily due to increased loan demand by businesses. Most districts that commented on lending activity indicated little or no change in overall loan demand, but the remaining districts identified increases rather than decreases. New York reported a pronounced increase in demand for commercial mortgages, and Cleveland also noted increased demand in this category. Both Dallas and San Francisco noted a slight uptick in commercial and industrial lending.

Lending standards were largely unchanged across all lending categories. However, New York reported slight tightening for commercial and industrial loans. Moreover, a few reports highlighted that small businesses continued to struggle with credit access through banks. In the Atlanta district, some small businesses have turned to non-bank institutions for financing, and in the Chicago District some manufacturers have been financing loans to their suppliers from retained earnings. Credit quality improved in many districts: New York reported a decline in delinquency rates for all loan categories, while Philadelphia, Richmond, Kansas City, Dallas and San Francisco all reported general improvement in loan quality.

To read the full Beige Book report, click here.