WASHINGTON (4/17/14)--Economic activity improved almost uniformly throughout the U.S. from mid-February through March, according to the Beige Book, a wide-ranging summary of economic conditions across the country published by the Federal Reserve.
Ten out of 12 districts saw improvement, the summary said, with declines in overall conditions only reported in Cleveland and St. Louis. The districts that saw gains, meanwhile, realized mostly "modest to moderate" progress.
Boston, Philadelphia, Richmond, Va., Atlanta, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Mo., Dallas and San Francisco all reported modest and moderate gains, while Chicago also said economic growth had picked up.
New York and Philadelphia each rebounded from weather-driven struggles that buried them earlier in the year.
"Loan demand strengthened since the previous Beige Book," the summary said. "Credit quality improved in the Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond and Kansas City Districts. New York and Dallas reported especially strong increases."
Many of the districts that stumbled through the early months of the year in terms of home sales and mortgage borrowing cited the inclement weather as the main obstacle as well.
St. Louis was the only district to report a decrease in loan growth.
New York and Dallas both indicated strong increases in credit quality, while credit standards appear to be loosening in Atlanta.
Further, the majority of districts experienced mixed or declining residential borrowing, while Dallas and San Francisco reported slight growth.
For real estate and construction, reports varied.
Home sales strengthened in Kansas City, single-family home sales stayed healthy in Dallas, and real estate appeared improved in Richmond.
Chicago reported declines in home sales, again listing weather as the main driver of the step-back, and New York housing markets continued to be mixed.
The report said auto sales, transportation, manufacturing and financial services all improved, along with improvements in labor market conditions.