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Risk Off Prompts Safe Haven Demand

--Report Prepared by the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank
--5 Districts Report Modest, 6 Districts Moderate, 1 Robust
     WASHINGTON (MNI) - The following are the highlights by district in 
the summary of the Federal Reserve's report on Current Economic 
Conditions, known as The Beige Book, released Wednesday: 
     Economic activity expanded at a modest pace as 2017 ended, with the 
majority of contacts at manufacturing, retail, and software and 
information technology firms reporting revenue increases even as some 
saw flat or declining revenue. Employers cited tight labor markets as a 
constraint on expansion. Respondents outlooks continued to be positive. 
New York
     Economic activity continued to expand moderately, while labor 
markets have remained tight. Input prices have increased at a somewhat 
faster pace, while selling prices continued to rise modestly. Housing 
markets and commercial real estate markets have been mixed but generally 
steady overall. 
     Economic activity continued to grow at a modest pace, in particular 
for manufacturing, nonfinancial services, and tourism. Nonauto retail 
sales improved to a modest pace as auto sales slipped to a modest 
decline. The construction and real estate sectors changed little. On 
balance, employment, wages, and prices continued to grow modestly. 
     The economy continued to expand at a moderate pace. Labor markets 
tightened, with wage pressures coming primarily from workers in low- and 
middle-skills jobs. Retailers reported higher-than-expected revenues for 
the early part of the holiday shopping season. Homebuilders saw little 
evidence of a seasonal downturn in the housing market. 
     The regional economy grew at a moderate pace in recent weeks. 
Robust growth was reported by trucking and tourism firms. Retailers 
generally reported better-thanexpected holiday sales. Meanwhile, 
commercial real estate activity and commercial lending improved 
moderately. Labor markets tightened further and wage pressures 
broadened. Price growth remained modest. 
     Economic activity improved modestly since the previous report. The 
labor market remained tight and wage increases were stable. Non-labor 
input costs picked up slightly. Retailers were optimistic when reporting 
on holiday sales. Home sales were mixed and prices increased modestly. 
Commercial real estate contacts continued to indicate improving demand. 
Manufacturers noted an increase in new orders. 
     Economic activity picked up to a moderate pace. Employment, 
consumer spending, and manufacturing production increased moderately, 
construction and real estate activity rose slightly, and business 
spending was unchanged. Wages increased modestly, prices rose slightly, 
and financial conditions improved some. Crop and dairy farmers continued 
to face challenging conditions. 
St. Louis
     Economic conditions continued to improve at a modest pace. In 
positive news, retailers reports of holiday sales were generally 
upbeat, and real estate activity has picked up somewhat. However, auto 
dealers continued to report mixed sales results, and agriculture 
conditions in the District remain weak. 
     Ninth District economic activity grew moderately. Although 
employment levels dipped, hiring demand appeared to remain strong. 
District manufacturers indicated that a solid 2017 would continue, with 
upbeat expectations for the year to come. Holiday retail spending was 
strong, but winter tourism got off to an uneven start. Commercial 
construction increased; homebuilding was mixed, but residential sales 
were up. 
Kansas City
     Economic activity and employment expanded modestly in late November 
and December. Retail sales increased sharply, and consumer spending 
remained well above year-ago levels. The manufacturing and energy 
sectors expanded further, and capital spending plans were positive. A 
majority of contacts in the services sector reported labor shortages, 
and strong wage growth was anticipated in the months ahead. 
     Economic activity grew robustly, a pickup in pace from the more 
moderate expansion seen throughout most of 2017. The manufacturing 
sector remained a bright spot, although growth accelerated in most other 
sectors as well. Employment growth picked up, and wage and price 
pressures remained elevated. Labor shortages persisted, with several 
reports that difficulty hiring was impeding growth to some extent. 
San Francisco
     Economic activity in the Twelfth District continued to expand at a 
moderate pace. Sales of retail goods picked up noticeably, and growth in 
the consumer and business services sectors remained strong. Conditions 
in the manufacturing sector remained solid. Activity in residential real 
estate markets remained robust, while conditions in the commercial 
sector were strong. Lending activity grew at a modest pace. 
--MNI Washington Bureau;tel: +1 202 371-2121