‘Cautiously optimistic’ economic outlook noted in latest Beige report

Mixed results on consumer spending, “roughly flat” bank lending and some increases in residential construction and tourism were noted by the Federal Reserve in its April Beige Book report on economic conditions.

The report is based on information collected on or before April 8 from contacts outside the Federal Reserve System. In it, the Fed reported that economic activity overall had expanded slightly, “on balance,” since late February.

The Fed said 10 out of its 12 districts saw slight or modest economic growth – that’s up from eight districts in the previous report. The remaining two districts, it said, reported no changes in activity.

The report points to mixed results for consumer spending across districts and spending categories, with several mentions of weakness in discretionary spending; buoyed auto spending in some districts by improved inventories and dealer incentives, sluggish elsewhere; modest rise on average in tourism activity; slight declines in manufacturing; and slight increases in nonfinancial services activity.

“Residential construction increased a little, on average, and home sales strengthened in most Districts. In contrast, nonresidential construction was flat, and commercial real estate leasing fell slightly,” the report states. “The economic outlook among contacts was cautiously optimistic, on balance.”

Beige Book – April 2024