April 14, 2010
Federal Reserve Districts
|Skip to content
Business contacts around the District described economic activity as improving in March and early April. Retailers saw an increase in traffic and sales and their outlook improved. Auto sales increased on a year-over-year basis, while revenues in the District's tourism segment were described as stable. Residential real estate contacts indicated that both new and existing home sales improved and were above weak levels from a year earlier. Commercial contractors, on the other hand, continued to cite weakness in nonresidential construction activity. District manufacturers noted further improvement in new orders and production. The flow of bank credit to businesses remained subdued. Permanent hiring remained weak. However, temporary help agencies noted an increase in job orders. Manufacturers and homebuilders reported increases in input prices but indicated that they were not able to pass them through to consumers.
Consumer Spending and Tourism
Tourism-related spending was described as stable in most parts of the District. Contacts in Atlanta, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, Orlando, and Tampa all reported hotel occupancy rates above the national average from February to March. Cruise lines noted increased demand and have unwound some earlier price discounting. The near-term outlook among hospitality contacts remained generally upbeat. However, corporate bookings remained at very low levels at some high-end resorts.
Real Estate and Construction
Realtors indicated a slight improvement in existing home sales with nearly half of those contacted reporting modest increases. Sales at the low-end of the market continued to outpace those at higher price points. However, sales growth at the low-end moderated from late-2009 levels, while mid- to high-end home sales stabilized. Similar to comments from homebuilders, many Realtors also noted that difficulty in obtaining financing was impeding home sales. Most continued to cite downward pressure on home prices. The outlook for sales over the next several months continued to be modestly positive.
Low levels of commercial construction continued across much of the District. Most contractors described activity as relatively flat compared with previous reports, and a few cited additional weakness. The volume of backlogs was little changed but remained lower than a year ago. Most indicated that the demand for new construction continued to be soft. Looking ahead, the majority of contacts anticipated commercial construction will continue to be weak for the remainder of the year.
Manufacturing and Transportation
Banking and Finance
Employment and Prices
District manufacturing and homebuilder contacts reported increases in commodity-related material prices compared with a year ago, though prices softened somewhat on a monthly basis. Several businesses expressed concern that supply chain capacity reductions in some industries could lead to further input price increases if product demand increased rapidly.
Natural Resources and Agriculture