Fed Beige Book: Manufacturing strong, staffing strong in Dallas, Housing depressed
The Fed's beige book tells us what the Fed is seeing and can give us insight into what they might be thinking and their possible responses. I've gathered some tidbits. Via FRB:
Manufacturing activity continued to expand in almost all Districts, with relatively strong growth seen in metal fabrication and the automotive industries. Reports also showed steady to increasing activity for professional and nonfinancial services.On Retail
Reports on consumer spending tended to be positive. Nonetheless, several Districts noted that households remain price sensitive and focused on buying necessities.On housing
Expectations for the holiday shopping season were generally positive, with several Districts expecting higher sales when compared to year-ago levels.
Sales of new cars and light trucks were largely higher than in our last report.
Prices for final goods and services were fairly stable, despite rising input costs, especially for agricultural commodities, metals, and fuel.
Housing markets remain depressed, with several Districts reporting further weakening during the past six weeks. Conditions in commercial real estate were mixed, and activity stayed at low levels.On Agriculture
Agricultural conditions were generally favorable, with several Districts reporting yields nearing historic highs. Agricultural sales to off-shore buyers increased.On Banking
Lending activity remained stable across most Districts. Credit quality has been steady to improving for most of the Districts that commented on it.On employment
Hiring activity showed some improvement across most Districts, although employers are waiting for clearer signals of expanding business prospects before adding significantly to payrolls. A preference for part-time and temporary workers was reported in the Atlanta and Chicago Districts.
Employers in the Boston, Richmond, and Minneapolis Districts reported having difficulty finding skilled workers. Employment agencies in the New York, Richmond, and Chicago Districts reported a moderate increase in new job openings, while staffing firms in Dallas said that hiring activity is strong. Boston staffing contacts noted that labor demand has strengthened, particularly in the information technology, medical, manufacturing, and legal sectors.
Wage pressures remain subdued across Districts. Contacts in Richmond and Kansas City noted that they expect little change in wage pressures during the upcoming months. However, employers in San Francisco reported significant increases in employee benefit costs.