According to the Federal Reserve Board’s Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions (“Beige Book”*), released yesterday, economic activity in the Chicago-based 7th District continued to expand at a moderate pace through April and May of 2012, though slightly slower than the previous reporting period; the full report is available on the FRB website.
Chicago District Beige Book Highlights (April/May):
- Consumer spending increased at a slower rate as retailers had difficulty maintaining the large gains posted during the unseasonably warm weather of the prior reporting period. For more information click here.
- Business spending continued at a steady pace, driven largely by manufacturers’ strong expected sales growth, high rates of capacity utilization, and replacement of aging equipment.For more information click here.
- Construction activity was up, with multi-family projects, especially apartments, continuing to lead – although single-family construction also increased. For more information, click here.
- Manufacturing production increased at a steady pace. The steel industry used the highest share of its production capacity since the end of the recent recession, despite weaker demand from Europe and Asia. For more information, click here.
- Credit conditions were unchanged. Market volatility increased slightly, and business loan demand remained limited. For more information, click here.
- Cost pressures leveled off as steel, energy, and wholesale prices all decreased slightly. For more information, click here.
- Agriculture – Prices for corn and soybeans fell as an early planting season suggested these crops may see record yields. Milk prices were also down, spurring concerns among dairy farmers, while prices for wheat, hogs, and cattle were higher. For more information, click here.
*The Beige Book summarizes comments received from business and other contacts outside the Federal Reserve and is not a commentary on the views of Federal Reserve officials.
Source: prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago based on information collected on or before May 25, 2012.