Beige book highlights, coast to coast

Correction: An earlier version of this article, including Thursday’s print edition of The Washington Post, referenced data from a July 2010 Federal Reserve report. This version has been corrected.


July 28, 2011

What the Federal Reserve reported for its 12 districts:

1. Several contacts note upward price pressure on commodities including paint, copper, plastics, and cotton, and one says vendors have given notice of price increases to take effect during the coming months.

2. Manhattan's apartment rental market has strengthened…. Rents on new leases were reported to be up 6 percent in June from a year earlier in June. In addition, one contact notes that landlords have pulled back on concessions, which are now reportedly being offered on fewer than 5 percent of new leases, down from 60 percent in mid-2010.

3. On balance, total credit extended by banks in the region has been flat to slightly down. Expectations for better growth were not met for the most recent period--dampening expectations for anything but the slightest improvement in the near future, according to banking contacts.

4. Freight transport executives told us that shipping volume expanded slightly, as the effects of supply chain disruptions due to events in Japan and severe spring weather in the U.S. dissipate.

5. Contacts along the Mid-Atlantic coast reported bookings in line with a year ago--notwithstanding last year's "bump" from vacationers who relocated their vacations to the East Coast from the Gulf Coast during the oil spill disruptions.

6. Contractors commented that healthcare and apartment construction were bright spots and that renovations in commercial and apartment space had increased.

7. A small percentage of acres along the Missouri River were lost to flooding. Though there was some concern about recent above-average temperatures, contacts still see the potential for good to excellent corn and soybean yields this fall, contingent upon favorable weather for the rest of the summer.

8. Firms in the wood, organic dye, automobile parts, lime, and hygiene product manufacturing industries reported plans to expand operations and hire new workers.

9. Wind-energy development projects continued since the last report, including the opening of a 40-megawatt wind farm in Minnesota. However, a utility announced that it was canceling plans for a $38 million wind farm in western South Dakota.

10. Auto dealers reported strong sales despite reduced incentives, with demand strongest for small, fuel-efficient vehicles. Dealers … attributed some of the recent sales boost to tornado damage in areas of Oklahoma and Missouri.

11. The rig count continues to shift towards oil-directed drilling, and contacts noted horizontal drilling and fracturing activity remain very profitable. In the Gulf of Mexico, 15 rigs have been re-permitted--with seven currently working and near completion.

12. In contrast to homeownership, demand for rental space continued to grow, prompting rent increases and rising construction activity for multifamily units in some areas.

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