WASHINGTON (7/16/15)--Economic activity ramped up in all 12 districts reporting to the Federal Reserve for its Beige Book, a general snapshot of the state of the U.S. economy.
The positive report, which said that economic conditions improved at a modest to moderate pace in most districts, could give the Federal Reserve more ammunition to raise short-term interest rates later this year, a move Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen all-but-confirmed Wednesday during her address to Congress. (See related story: Fed’s Yellen says rate hike expected this year)
Though Yellen did not hint at just when the Federal Open Market Committee would finally raise rates.
According to the Beige Book, several districts reported positive trends in consumer spending in the period between mid-May and the end of June, driven by low energy prices. Auto sales also climbed in nearly every district, as did tourism.
Residential and commercial real estate markets saw improvements as well, the Fed said in the report, with home sales rising in nearly all districts.
Lending activity also made headway since the last report, with real estate lending improving in roughly half of the districts, and consumer lending--particularly auto loans--climbing as well.
“Most impressive, growth has been spread across a wide range of industries throughout geographies,” said Christopher Velarides, Moody’s analyst (Economy.com July 15). “Since the previous Beige Book, a number of key indicators such as payroll employment have improved, indicating that data are beginning to catch up to the optimistic Beige Book.”