Skip to content

Economic Activity Rises in Most Fed Districts

Thursday, April 17, 2014

In the most recent issue of the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, most districts indicated increased economic activity in their regions since the previous report.  The St. Louis Fed, however, was one of two to indicate a decline in economic activity.  (The Cleveland Fed was the other.)

Manufacturing and Other Business Activity

Nationwide, manufacturing improved in most districts, with several banks reporting a less severe impact of winter weather during this reporting period compared to earlier this year.  Nearly all reported some level of manufacturing growth, with only one district (Richmond) reporting mixed conditions.

In the St. Louis District, several manufacturing firms reported plans to add workers, expand operations or open new facilities, but these reports were offset by layoffs in the service sector.

Real Estate and Construction

Reports on residential housing markets varied across the country, with most areas experiencing low inventory levels and modest rises in home prices.  Residential construction reports also varied, with several banks reporting some level of growth, but three banks seeing declines.

Most of the largest metro areas in the St. Louis District saw declines in sales of new and existing homes.  Compared with the same period in 2013, January 2014 total home sales were down 12 percent in Louisville, Ky., 5 percent in Memphis, Tenn., and 30 percent in St. Louis.  Sales in Little Rock, Ark., were up 7 percent for the period.  The St. Louis District was also one of the three areas with a decline in residential construction.

Banking and Finance

Overall, loan demand strengthened since the previous Beige Book was released.  However, most banks noted mixed or declining residential mortgage borrowing.  Commercial loan volumes grew in each of the districts reporting on banking with the exception of St. Louis.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

Agricultural conditions varied across districts.  The Chicago, Kansas City and Dallas Feds reported varying levels of growth or improvement, while agricultural conditions weakened in the Richmond, Atlanta, St. Louis and Minneapolis districts.  Higher soybean prices shifted planting intentions away from corn, with the St. Louis Fed reporting that farmers in its District plan to plant 1 million fewer acres of corn and 570,000 more acres of soybeans.

Additional Resources

Posted In BankingFederal ReserveHousingLabor  |  Tagged agriculturebankingbeige bookcornhousingmanufacturingresidential constructionresidential housingsoybeans
Commenting Policy: We encourage comments and discussions on our posts, even those that disagree with conclusions, if they are done in a respectful and courteous manner. All comments posted to our blog go through a moderator, so they won't appear immediately after being submitted. We reserve the right to remove or not publish inappropriate comments. This includes, but is not limited to, comments that are:
  • Vulgar, obscene, profane or otherwise disrespectful or discourteous
  • For commercial use, including spam
  • Threatening, harassing or constituting personal attacks
  • Violating copyright or otherwise infringing on third-party rights
  • Off-topic or significantly political
The St. Louis Fed will only respond to comments if we are clarifying a point. Comments are limited to 1,500 characters, so please edit your thinking before posting. While you will retain all of your ownership rights in any comment you submit, posting comments means you grant the St. Louis Fed the royalty-free right, in perpetuity, to use, reproduce, distribute, alter and/or display them, and the St. Louis Fed will be free to use any ideas, concepts, artwork, inventions, developments, suggestions or techniques embodied in your comments for any purpose whatsoever, with or without attribution, and without compensation to you. You will also waive all moral rights you may have in any comment you submit.
comments powered by Disqus

The St. Louis Fed uses Disqus software for the comment functionality on this blog. You can read the Disqus privacy policy. Disqus uses cookies and third party cookies. To learn more about these cookies and how to disable them, please see this article.