Contact reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts suggest that national economic activity expanded at a modest to moderate pace during the reporting period of late November through the end of December. Seven Districts characterized growth as modest; of the remaining five, New York and Chicago noted a pickup in the pace of growth, Dallas and San Francisco reported moderate growth, and Richmond indicated that activity flattened or improved slightly. Compared with prior summaries, the reports on balance suggest ongoing improvement in economic conditions in recent months, with most Districts highlighting more favorable conditions than identified in reports from the late spring through early fall. Manufacturing activity expanded in most Districts, generally continuing its steady overall expansion or, in the case of Atlanta, reversing a slowdown in prior periods. For the sector as a whole, further growth or improved conditions were reported by almost all Districts, except for Cleveland, Richmond, and Dallas, which reported that activity was largely stable or mixed, and Kansas City, which noted a slight decline. The strongest reports came from subsectors such as heavy equipment manufacturing and steel, for which demand has been boosted by robust growth in the energy, agricultural, and auto manufacturing sectors. Activity in residential real estate markets largely held steady at very low levels, with the exception of further increases in the construction of multifamily residences. Lending activity edged up overall, primarily due to increased loan demand by businesses.
(Image Credit: Federal Reserve)