From the Federal Reserve:
The Second District’s economy has grown at a somewhat faster pace since the last report, led by brisk holiday-season spending. Labor market conditions, as well as prices, have remained generally stable. Manufacturers report modestly improved general business conditions and steady employment since the last report, along with increased optimism about the near-term outlook. Retailers generally characterize holiday season spending as robust, particularly in the final days before Christmas and right after. Auto dealers report that sales have remained strong since the last report. Tourism activity has held steady at a high level. Conditions have generally remained stable in the housing market, though the rental market has continued to improve. Commercial real estate markets have been stable to moderately stronger in late 2011. Finally, bankers report increased loan demand, steady to somewhat tighter credit standards, and lower delinquency rates across the board.
Construction and Real Estate
Residential rental markets continue to strengthen, while real estate sales have shown little change since the last report and new development activity continues to be sluggish. New York City’s rental market remains tight: rents continue to rise, as the inventory of available units remains lean. Manhattan co-op and condo prices were little changed in the fourth quarter, while sales activity slowed from its fairly brisk third quarter pace. Market conditions were reported to be similar in Brooklyn but a bit softer in the other boroughs and on Long Island. On a more positive note, one industry expert in New Jersey sees improved fundamentals in the housing market and foresees a pickup in market conditions in 2012. Real estate contacts in other parts of the District also note some increase in optimism among developers.
Commercial real estate markets have been steady to somewhat stronger since the last report. New York City’s office market has picked up in late 2011, with office vacancy rates edging down and asking rents rising. There were also modest signs of improvement in Westchester and Fairfield counties and in the Albany area, whereas office markets in northern New Jersey and western New York State appear to have slackened modestly. Industrial leasing markets were generally steady overall: conditions firmed in Long Island but showed some signs of softening across upstate New York; in the rest of the District, conditions were little changed.