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Beige Book shows manufacturing, auto sales improvements

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Economic conditions in the Federal Reserve's Eighth District, which includes Springfield, improved in July on manufacturing, automotive and residential real estate activity, according to the Beige Book report released July 28.

Manufacturing activity was affected positively by a larger reported number of plant openings and expansions and a smaller number of companies reporting closings and losses.

Specifically, companies dealing in furniture, plastic product, metal pipe and plastic resin reported expansion and hiring plans. Comparatively, manufacturing firms in the motor and generator, furniture and polystyrene foam product industries announced closings and layoffs.

Sales of new and used automobiles have increased since last year, slightly above the reserve's expectations.

In real estate and construction, residential real estate market conditions showed improvement, while commercial and industrial real estate, particularly construction, remained slow.

Home sales have improved: May 2010 year-to-date housing permits increased 27 percent in Louisville, Ky., 31 percent in Little Rock, Ark., 36 percent in St. Louis and 52 percent in Memphis, Tenn., the report said.

Reports showed that new construction projects and lease rates remained low, and new industrial and commercial projects are unlikely for the rest of 2010.

In banking and finance, overall lending has decreased.

Real estate lending, which makes up 74 percent of total loans, decreased 2 percent from early April to late June. Commercial and industrial loans, making up 16 percent of total loans, decreased 2.5 percent, and loans to individuals decreased 6.5 percent.

Development of major crops was ahead of its five-year average pace; however, pasture conditions in most of the district's states deteriorated.

The Beige Book, released eight times a year, summarizes anecdotal information on current economic conditions and is separated into 12 districts.[[In-content Ad]]

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