Beige Book Finds Prices Rising Everywhere

New York

The regional economy weakened moderately in late 2020, and the labor market has deteriorated somewhat. This weakness was concentrated in the service sector, where activity has been further constrained by a rise in COVID-19 cases, increased restrictions, and cold weather. Consumer spending declined, with holiday sales down from last year and auto sales weakening. Businesses reported some acceleration in wages and selling prices.

Philadelphia

Business activity fell modestly during the current Beige Book period as sharply rising COVID-19 cases created disruptions at worksites and curtailed consumer spending during the holidays. On the whole, activity remained below levels attained prior to the onset of COVID-19. Meanwhile, slight wage growth and modest inflation continued, but employment appeared to edge down.

Cleveland

The District economy lost some momentum in recent weeks. Contacts said that rising cases of COVID-19 curbed demand for goods and services and disrupted supply through its impact on labor availability. Despite the slower growth in demand, firms generally indicated that they would hire workers if more were available. Wages and input costs rose moderately, as did selling prices.

Richmond

The regional economy grew modestly in recent weeks. Employment and wages showed modest increases, while prices grew at a moderate pace. The housing market remained strong, while commercial real estate leasing remained soft. Port and trucking volumes were high, and manufacturing activity showed a moderate increase.

Atlanta

Economic activity expanded modestly. Labor markets were mixed. Some nonlabor costs continued to rise. On balance, retail sales were down. Tourism activity slowed. Residential real estate demand remained strong and home prices continued to rise. Challenges persisted in commercial real estate markets. Manufacturing activity rose. Conditions at financial institutions were stable.

Chicago

Economic activity increased modestly but remained below its pre-pandemic level. Manufacturing increased moderately; business spending and construction and real estate increased modestly; and employment and consumer spending increased slightly. Wages rose modestly and prices were up slightly. Financial conditions were little changed. Agricultural income for 2020 was better than expected.

St. Louis

Economic conditions have been generally unchanged since our previous report. Reports on overall consumer spending were mixed, while reports on holiday sales focused on an accelerated shift to online shopping. District banking contacts reported slowing growth in loan volumes but anticipate stronger demand in coming months from new PPP loans.

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