Lending, consumer spending and commercial construction have improved over the past month, according to the latest Beige Book report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
The report, published eight times per year by each Federal Reserve Bank, notes that economic activity in the St. Louis Fed’s region, which covers Arkansas, parts of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi, has picked up at a moderate pace in recent weeks.
Although residential building declined, commercial real estate development picked up in places like Chesterfield, with contacts in St. Louis reporting “multiple plans for speculative industrial development projects across the area.”
Bankers in St. Louis also reported their commercial and industrial loan demand ramped up 2.0 percent between mid-June and mid-September, while real estate lending rose 1.1 percent and personal loans increased to 4.6 percent.
Hiring news from manufacturers in the region was mostly positive, with firms in freight, insurance and financial, and communication services, reporting new hiring and expansion plans across the region.
Consumer spending also grew at a solid rate, with optimistic remarks about future sales growth. Several retailers noted stronger sales of home improvement and building materials, though sales for some higher-priced items were characterized as weak.
The Beige Book report gathers anecdotal information on current economic conditions in 12 districts, through reports from bank directors and interviews with key business contacts, economists, market experts and other sources.