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The Federal Reserve System’s latest Beige Book survey was released in September. It was reported that the Dallas area grew modestly over the past six weeks. Below are some of the highlights from the latest Beige Book.
Prices
  • Crude oil prices fell below $73/barrel by late August, down from $82 a month earlier.
  • Gasoline, diesel and heating oil fell during the reporting period.
Labor Market
  • Layoffs in the lumber and trailer manufacturing industries.
  • Workers added in transportation services, legal services, automobile sales and transportation manufacturing.
Manufacturing
  • Construction related materials (brick, lumber, cement, glass, and primary and fabricated metals) sales remained weak.
  • High-tech product sales demands held steady over the past six weeks.
  • Paper manufacturers reported flat to declining sales over the past six weeks.
  • Non-defense aircraft manufacturers’ orders were held steady over the past six weeks and are above year-ago levels.
  • Export growth was positive but slower, as a result of higher prices in Europe and Asia.
Retail
  • Retailers experienced a slower growth rate over the past few weeks, but sales are up on a year-over-year basis.
  • Eleventh District sales trended slightly above the nation over the reporting period.
  • Overall 2010 sales should show positive single-digit growth.
  • Automobile demand held steady.
Services
  • Staffing firms’ demands continues to grow at a solid pace, particularly for light industrial, sales, administrative, professional and technical workers.
  • Placement activity is usually for contract work.
  • Transportation demands remain positive.
  • Railroad respondents reported a broad-based increase in cargo volumes.
  • Small parcel cargo volumes rose.
  • Large freight shipments declined.
Construction and Real Estate
  • Home sales continue to decrease since the last report.
  • Construction of new homes fell.
  • Sales and construction are expected to remain weak.
  • Nonresidential construction remains weak.
  • Public construction is the main source of job activity.
Financial Services
  • Loan demands continue to decrease.
  • Business lending was especially weak.
  • Deposit growth was strong.
  • Credit quality on outstanding loans was stable.
  • Earnings projections are flat for 2011.
Energy
  • Drilling activity in the Eleventh District increased since the last report.
  • Drilling companies reported solid demand and improved margins.
Agriculture
  • Crop conditions remain very strong.
  • Record cotton crop is expected for Texas.
The Dallas Beige Book, along with a link to the national summary and reports from other Federal Reserve Districts, is available online.