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Fed’s Beige Report Sees Mixed Results for Housing

The same day it made public a campaign by central banks to shore up global liquidity, the ""Federal Reserve"":http://www.federalreserve.gov/ released the ""Beige Report"":http://www.federalreserve.gov/FOMC/BeigeBook/2011/ Wednesday, describing a stable national economy eclipsed by low consumer confidence and a housing market defined by still-strong interest in rental properties.

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The central bank releases a Beige Report every quarter. The most recent edition tracked anecdotal reports across the nation's 12 districts in early November.

With lending largely on the rise, residential and commercial real estate activity languished in the doldrums, with commercial and single-family home construction not far behind, according to the Fed.

""Overall bank lending activity increased slightly since the previous report,"" it said in the report, finding loan demand increasing in the Cleveland, Kansas City, Philadelphia, and New York districts.

Richmond encountered mixed loan activity, while Boston enjoyed more plentiful financial support for higher-end properties. The Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, and St. Louis districts saw only minor changes in lending behavior.

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Different districts reported mixed results.

""Credit conditions were little changed on balance during the reporting period,"" the Chicago district reported. ""Volatility in equity markets remained elevated, and some additional flight to quality further boosted the demand for Treasury debt.""

Respondents from the Dallas, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Richmond districts reported more residential real estate activity, with declines in sales seen in Atlanta and St. Louis.

""Residential brokers indicated that sales softened in October through mid-November compared with September, but were flat to slightly up compared with weak levels from last year,"" the Fed concluded by speaking with respondents from the Atlanta district.

The Fed noted that multifamily construction picked up steam in several districts, including those with headquarters in Chicago, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and New York, beating competition from single-family home construction.

""Commercial real estate markets remained sluggish across most of the nation,"" the report said, finding few, if minor, changes in districts like Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, and New York.

Vacancy rates went up in the Richmond and St. Louis districts, with progressively weaker activity emerging in these as well as the districts for Philadelphia and New York.

The Fed also noted ""generally subdued"" hiring practices, such as some in Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Philadelphia, and New York.

Districts for Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia reported that more firms with open positions found it difficult to fill them with the appropriate candidates.

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.
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