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Summary of Economic Reports by Federal Reserve District Banks

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 Kansas City prepared the latest report. Information was collected on or before Aug. 26.

Boston: “Business contacts in the First District continue to report mixed results. Some manufacturers cite slowing demand while others continue to enjoy strong sales, retail activity is mostly flat, tourism is up, staffing and software and IT services firms note continued growth, and real estate markets remain sluggish.”

New York: “Economic growth in the Second District has remained sluggish since the last report. While it is too early to assess the full effects of Hurricane Irene, initial reports suggest widespread disruptions and local pockets of more extreme stress from flooding and power outages. Transportation and other infrastructure apparently sustained limited damage.”

Philadelphia: “Since the last Beige Book, business activity in the Third District has been more mixed and somewhat weaker overall. Several sectors have continued to report slow, steady growth, and a few sectors have grown faster, while others have shifted to reporting slower growth, no growth, or declines. Manufacturing activity has declined since the last Beige Book.”

Cleveland: “The economy in the Fourth District grew at a slow pace during the past six weeks, with many of our contacts downgrading their near-term outlooks. Manufacturers reported stable production but a decline in new orders and backlogs. Freight transport volume trended slightly higher. Retailers said that their sales were on or ahead of plan and new-car purchases increased.”

Richmond: “Economic activity in the Fifth District slowed since our last report. Manufacturing activity pulled back markedly in August, following a sluggish July, and retail sales weakened. Residential construction and housing sales declined further, while commercial real estate activity was mixed.”

Atlanta: “Sixth District business contacts indicated that economic activity continued to expand at a very subdued pace in July and August. Retail sales grew more slowly than during the previous reporting period, although tourism activity remained solid. Existing home sales improved in Florida, but were weak elsewhere in the District.”

Chicago: “Economic activity in the Seventh District expanded more slowly in July and August. Contacts expressed concern about the economic outlook, noting lower business and consumer confidence. Both consumer and business spending were little changed over the reporting period. Manufacturing production expanded at a slower pace, while construction decreased.”

St. Louis: “The economy of the Eighth District has continued to grow at a modest pace since the previous report. Manufacturing activity has continued its increase since the previous report, and activity in the services sector also has increased. Retail sales in July and early August declined slightly over year-earlier levels, and auto sales increased over the same period. Residential real estate market activity has continued to decline.”

Minneapolis: “The Ninth District economy has grown slightly since the last report. Increased activity was noted in consumer spending, tourism, residential and commercial construction, residential real estate, manufacturing, energy and mining. Crop reports were mostly down from last year, but several District agricultural prices have risen recently. Activity in commercial real estate and professional services was flat overall.”

Kansas City: “The Tenth District economy expanded modestly in late July and early August. Consumer spending edged up with solid back-to-school shopping and stronger than expected auto sales. Led by durable goods production, District manufacturing activity grew slightly, with expectations for stronger activity over the coming months. Despite solid multi-family building activity, residential and commercial construction remained weak.”

Dallas: “The Eleventh District economy grew at a modest pace since the last report. Reports from manufacturers were mixed, and activity in the services sector rose slightly. The single-family housing sector remained weak, but activity in the multifamily sector was strong and the commercial real estate sector saw continued improvement. Financial services respondents said overall loan demand was flat during the reporting period.”

San Francisco: “Economic activity in the Twelfth District continued to expand modestly during the reporting period of mid-July through the end of August. Upward price pressures were mixed but appeared to ease overall, and upward pressures on wages were subdued. Demand for retail items edged up on balance, as did demand for business and consumer services.”

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