The Federal Reserve's Beige Book, which is published eight times a year and gathers anecdotal information on economic conditions through reports from Federal Reserve Bank directors, indicates continued economic stabilization in July and August.
According to the report, the Dallas Fed indicated economic activity has ‘firmed.’ The Boston, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Richmond and San Francisco Feds mentioned signs of improvement. Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Minneapolis, and New York generally described economic activity as ‘stable or showing signs of stabilization,’ while St. Louis said the pace of decline appeared to be moderating.
In regard to residential real estate markets, Chicago, Richmond, Boston and San Francisco saw upticks in sales over the last six weeks. The Philadelphia district described sales as "steady." Home sales in St. Louis had not improved
Atlanta, New York, Cleveland and Minneapolis documented some year-over-year gains in select markets. Most districts noted that demand remained stronger at the low end of the housing market. The first-time home buyer tax credit spurred sales, according to the Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Kansas City, Richmond and New York districts.
Demand for commercial real estate space was generally considered weak, and all districts reported continued declines in construction. Vacancy rates increased in the districts belonging to Atlanta, Philadelphia, Richmond and San Francisco. Vacancy rates remained steady in the Boston and Kansas City districts and "mixed" in New York.
The New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Kansas City, St. Louis and San Francisco districts reported weakening loan demand across most categories. Credit standards ranged from unchanged to tighter in most districts. However, Chicago reported that credit conditions and availability had improved.
Mortgage activity declined modestly, according to the Philadelphia, Cleveland and Kansas City districts, while Richmond reported increases attributed to improved demand for starter homes. Dallas noted an uptick in refinancing activity.
SOURCE: Federal Reserve