Fed Beige Book shows moderate growth in KC district, slight improvement in St. Louis

The Federal Reserve Bank’s St. Louis district has shown slightly improved economic conditions in recent weeks, while the Fed’s Kansas City district has seen moderate growth, according to the latest Beige Book, a regular report about current economic conditions across the central bank’s 12 districts.

Overall, districts across the country showed growth in June, according to the report, and most districts are expected to have modest to moderate gains in the following months. The country mostly indicated growth in consumer spending, and modest to moderate increases in employment and wages.

A majority of districts witnessed a moderate rise in prices. Yet low agricultural prices remain an issue to some districts.

St. Louis

The eighth district, which covers all of Arkansas and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee, saw moderate wage growth in the period between the Fed’s April and June reports. Many employers reported difficulties finding suitable or experienced employees, according to the report.

The agriculture sector continued to be under price pressure, though cash prices of wheat, sorghum and rice have increased.

Residential real estate activity has experienced a modest decrease since the previous report, while commercial activity has remained flat.

In addition, the report shows that lending activity in the region has expanded and outpaced the nation in the last three months. Commercial real estate loan volumes and consumer loans have risen by 14 percent and 28 percent, respectively, on a year-over-year basis.

In the nonfinancial services, contacts in the St. Louis region delivered negative reports about the education sector due to recent layoffs at two major universities.

Kansas City

The tenth district, which includes western Missouri, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming and northern New Mexico, reported moderate growth in June with additional gains expected in the next few months.

The Fed’s contacts in most sectors reported a modest increase in employment since the last report, while employment in auto sales and restaurants remained flat. All sectors expected growing employment levels in the coming months, expect for the auto sector. Wages rose modestly in most sectors, and the trend is expected to continue.

Consumer spending grew moderately, while retail, restaurant and tourism contacts reported stronger sales compared to the previous report.

The report showed moderate growth in manufacturing in June. Residential and commercial construction activity expanded, yet home sales dropped slightly from the previous report.

Energy activity increased modestly, though expectations eased slightly. Contacts indicated that the number of active oil and gas drilling rigs kept increasing, but that growth was expected to slow down.

Most agricultural commodity prices remained low, the report said.


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