NEW YORK – Economic activity expanded moderately at most Federal Reserve Districts from early April to late May, with only Philadelphia reporting a slowing, according to the Beige Book, released Wednesday.
“Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts suggest overall economic activity expanded at a moderate pace during the reporting period from early April to late May,” according to the report. “Activity in the New York, Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco Districts was characterized as growing at a moderate pace, while the Richmond, St. Louis, and Minneapolis Districts noted modest growth. Boston reported steady growth, and the Philadelphia District indicated that the pace of expansion had slowed slightly since the previous Beige Book.”
Most districts reported manufacturing expanded.
Consumer spending held or rose modestly, the districts reported. New vehicle sales stayed strong, with popular models often in “tight” supply, while used car sales were flat.
Business and leisure travel and tourism gained, while demand for nonfinancial services held or grew slightly, with districts seeing expansion in information technology services.
Real estate was termed “improved” as “construction picked up in many areas of the country.”
Lenders reported an increase in demand and improved credit conditions.
In the labor markets, wage pressures were termed “modest,” with hiring “steady” or “slightly” better, “a number of Districts reported difficulties in finding qualified workers, particularly those with specialized skills.”
Price inflation remained modest across Districts, and overall cost pressures eased as the price of energy inputs declined. Economic outlooks remain positive, but contacts were slightly more guarded in their optimism.
Selling prices were stable or softer in New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Dallas, while Philadelphia, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco reported “cost pressures eased as the price of energy inputs fell.” But, Atlanta said some firms raised prices “tied to previous increases in energy costs,” while Kansas City District firms “noted higher input and final goods prices.”