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Fed Reserve: Retailers expect spending to rise

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The Federal Reserve’s June Beige Book shows continued economic growth and higher consumer spending in the Eighth District, which includes Springfield.
 
Manufacturing, retail sales and auto sales have continued to increase, according to the report. Other industries, including residential lending, posted declines. Commercial and industrial real estate conditions have been mixed, and overall lending at a sample of large banks in the district was relatively unchanged.
 
Consumer spending was a bright spot in the report, with about 48 percent of retailers reporting increases in spending, on average, from a year earlier. Decreases were reported by 36 percent, but 16 percent saw no changes. Though roughly 41 percent of retailers noted that sales were below expectations, the outlook for June and July was mostly optimistic, with about 60 percent of retailers anticipating that sales would increase compared to 2010 levels.
 
Several manufacturers in industries including food, packaging and powder coating reported plans to open plants or expand operations in the near future. One paper manufacturing plant in the district announced plans to close a plant and lay off employees, and some automobile manufacturers have reduced production, citing a shortage of parts from Japan.
 
Home sales and residential construction continued to drop throughout most of the Eighth District, the report said. Suburban office vacancy rates were mixed throughout the district, increasing in St. Louis, falling in Little Rock, Ark., and staying flat in Memphis, Tenn. Commercial and industrial construction remained slow in the district, though contacts in southwestern Illinois and Kentucky showed an overall increase in construction.
 
Compared to the fourth quarter of 2010, overall lending activity changed little in the first quarter of this year, the report said, citing feedback from senior loan officers with large banks in the district. Credit standards for industrial and commercial loans were unchanged, while demand for such loans ranged from unchanged to moderately stronger.

For commercial real estate loans, credit standards also were relatively unchanged, while demand ranged from unchanged to moderately weaker. For residential mortgages, credit standards ranged from unchanged to somewhat tighter, and demand ranged from moderately weaker to moderately stronger, the report said.[[In-content Ad]]

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