The Federal Reserve Bank gathers anecdotal information on current economic conditions through reports from Bank and Branch directors and interviews with key business contacts, economists, market experts, and other sources. The Beige Book summarizes this information.
The Federal Reserve has issued its Beige Book report for March. The Fed commented on the national real estate and construction market as follows:
Residential real estate and construction activity weakened or remained low in all Districts. Housing activity was reported to have moved lower in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco. While still slow, residential markets showed some signs of stabilizing in Cleveland, Atlanta, and Kansas City. Several Districts noted continuing downward price pressures and an increasing supply of homes for sale due to rising foreclosures. However, the inventory of unsold homes was reported to have declined in areas of the Boston and Atlanta Districts as well as in Philadelphia and Cleveland. Tighter credit conditions were cited as a limiting factor for demand in several Districts. Most Districts reported commercial real estate and construction activity had slowed, with New York, San Francisco and Dallas noting the sharpest declines. In contrast, Cleveland and St. Louis indicated steady activity. Increases in vacancy rates or sublease space were noted in Chicago, Boston, New York, Atlanta, and San Francisco. Several Districts reported project delays and cancellations due to tighter credit conditions and increased economic uncertainty.
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