Following is a summary of U.S. economic conditions as reported by the 12 Federal Reserve district banks in the central bank’s latest regional survey, also known as the Beige Book.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis prepared the latest report. Information was collected on or before Nov. 18.
Boston: “Most business contacts in the First District continue to report year-over-year revenue increases, but an uncertain outlook. Responding retailers cite mixed results and increased optimism about 2012; manufacturing contacts, by contrast, say they are uncertain about the outlook even though most current results remain good. Software and IT services companies continue to see good demand growth, while results are mixed, though mostly positive, for staffing firms.”
New York: “The Second District’s economy has continued to grow slowly since the last report, while the labor market has generally been stable. Manufacturers report that general business conditions and employment levels have been steady in recent weeks but that they plan to add workers in the months ahead. Consumer spending has continued to expand at a moderate pace: auto dealers report that sales were steady to stronger in October, non-auto retail contacts report that sales have been on or ahead of plan, and tourism activity has been generally robust.”
Philadelphia: “Business activity in the Third District has returned to a path of slow overall growth since the previous Beige Book. Following unusual weather disruptions from an earthquake, a hurricane, and a tropical storm during late summer, the region was visited again -- this time by a rare early season snowstorm. Since the last Beige Book, manufacturing activity has grown modestly, but steadily. Retailers reported renewed growth in year-over-year sales. Motor vehicle dealers experienced strong year-over-year sales growth; however, Thailand’s recent widespread flooding has caused another supply disruption of auto parts.”
Cleveland: “Business activity in the Fourth District expanded at a modest pace since our last report. Manufacturers reported that new orders and production were stable. Retail sales increased slightly. Auto dealers described sales of new and used vehicles as very good.”
Richmond: “Recent reports on economic activity in the Fifth District mostly described conditions as either unchanged or slightly improved. The more upbeat reports came from the retail sector, which rebounded in November, and the tourism sector, which continued to post moderate improvement. The agricultural sector also enjoyed a good harvest. Reports on manufacturing activity indicated little change over the last month, following several months of contraction. Likewise, the service sector was generally characterized as being flat, although a few bright spots were noted.”
Atlanta: “Sixth District business contacts described the economy as expanding at a modest pace in October through mid- November. Retailers noted sluggish sales growth compared with September; however, auto dealers continued to experience robust sales. Tourism activity remained a bright spot for most of the District. Manufacturers reported an increase in new orders but a modest decline in production.”
Chicago: “The pace of economic activity in the Seventh District moderated in October and early November. While contacts generally were cautiously optimistic about the economic outlook, many also expressed concern over the increasingly risk adverse business environment. Consumer spending increased, while business spending was steady. Manufacturing production also increased, with growth leveling off over the reporting period.”
St. Louis: “The economy of the Eighth District has slowed since our previous report. Manufacturing activity has declined, while reports of activity in the services sector have continued to be mixed. Retail sales in September and October declined slightly over year-earlier levels, and auto sales increased over the same period.”
Minneapolis: “The Ninth District economy grew moderately since the last report. Strong growth was reported in the agriculture, energy and mining sectors. Modest to moderate growth was noted in consumer spending, tourism, residential and commercial construction, residential real estate and professional services.”
Kansas City: “Growth in the Tenth District economy edged higher in October and early November but remained moderate overall. Consumer spending improved further, and manufacturing activity rose modestly. High-tech firms reported generally strong growth, and the energy industry continued to expand at a robust pace.”
Dallas: “The Eleventh District economy grew at a modest pace since the last report. Manufacturing activity held steady or declined, while demand for business services was flat. Activity in the transportation services sector was mixed. Retailers said sales growth moderated.”
San Francisco: “Economic activity in the Twelfth District continued to grow at a moderate pace during the reporting period of October through mid-November. Price increases for final goods and services were limited, and upward pressures on wages were subdued overall. Sales of retail items rose further, and demand grew modestly for business and consumer services. District manufacturing activity edged up on balance.”
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