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Weakness lingers in residential real estate: Beige Book

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Residential real estate activity remains weak though construction activity ticked up slightly in the rental market over the past few months, according to the Federal Reserve's Beige Book. The central bank's Beige Book, which summarizes economic activity within the 12 Fed districts, said the six districts closest to the Atlantic seaboard reported a slowdown in activity when compared to the prior survey. Meanwhile, economic activity remained relatively unchanged in the East with slight improvement reported by the Richmond, Va., Fed. The Minneapolis district struggled in the most recent period, reporting a temporary lull in economic growth due to political and weather-related disruptions. While Federal Reserve districts in the West reported a moderate pace of growth over the last few months. Consumer loan demand in the latest survey remained largely unchanged, with new federal regulations and tightened lending standards continuing to limit lending. While businesses remained cautious about the future, causing a restraint in demand for commercial and industrial loans, the Fed said competition is intensifying among some lenders to extend credit to well-qualified small and medium-sized businesses. In the latest report, the Fed said both consumer spending and manufacturing activity increased overall, but hiring remains modest with labor market conditions still described as "soft." Write to Kerri Panchuk.

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