Most regions of the nation report that the pace of the economy's decline "has moderated" in the past six to eight weeks, the Federal Reserve just reported.
In its eight-times-a-year Beige Book (named for the traditional color of its cover), the Fed says that five of its 12 bank districts "used the words 'slow', 'subdued', or 'weak' to describe activity levels; Chicago and St. Louis reported that the pace of decline appeared to be moderating; and New York, Cleveland, Kansas City, and San Francisco pointed to signs of stabilization. Minneapolis said the district economy had contracted since the last report."
The Fed also says:
Most Districts reported sluggish retail activity. Cleveland, Richmond, and Minneapolis noted further declines in sales, although results were somewhat mixed or positive according to retailers in the Boston, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Kansas City, and San Francisco Districts.
Manufacturing activity showed some improvement in the Richmond, Chicago, and Kansas City Districts; while St. Louis and Dallas reported some moderation of declines; Philadelphia and Minneapolis saw activity decrease; and most other Districts indicated that manufacturing activity continued at low levels.
Boston, Richmond, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and San Francisco reported contractions in services industries. Banking sectors in the New York, Cleveland, Richmond, St. Louis, Kansas City, and San Francisco Districts experienced weaker demand for some categories of loans.
Residential real estate markets stayed soft in most Districts, although many noted some signs of improvement. By contrast, commercial real estate markets weakened further in recent months in two-thirds of the Districts and remained slow in the others.