Stocks quoted in this article:
The Fed Beige Book is a subjective survey of economic conditions across the 12 U.S. Federal Reserve Districts. The February edition reported sluggish to modest economic growth. A majority of FRDs reported sluggish to modest economic growth, while others generally reported mixed conditions. Employers reported some easing in wage pressures, but labor markets remain tight.
As for the districts, St. Louis reported noticeably slower economic activity, while economic conditions were mixed in Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago and Minneapolis.
Boston, New York, Richmond, Atlanta, Kansas City and Dallas Seven reported recent growth.
Inflation appeared to be in check in most areas, except for a nationwide
surge in energy costs. Information contained within the report was inline with recent comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan that downside risks predominate over inflationary concerns about the economy.
Manufacturing activity decreased in most areas during the first two months of 2001. Several districts reported a falling output by automakers, but vehicle inventories remained high across the country. However, auto sales have improved since December, even though sales were weaker than those of early 2000.
The housing sector remained strong, as construction increased in areas that escaped the worst of the winter weather. Also, residential mortgage refinancing held strong in the face of lackluster demand for other types of lending.
The report did little to excite the markets, but offered some support in the treasuries market.