From the Federal Reserve:
The Second District’s economy appears to have expanded at a modest pace since the previous report. Business contacts in most industries report stable to improving conditions and express widespread optimism about the near-term outlook. Labor market conditions have been mixed but generally steady, on balance: T here has been little or no net hiring in the financial and manufacturing sectors, but a slight pickup in some other sectors. Retail sales are characterized as relatively strong in early 2011, despite inclement weather, and consumer confidence has continued to improve. However, tourism activity has shown signs of slowing by more than the seasonal norm in early 2011. Commercial real estate markets remain fairly slack: The market for office space has been generally stable, while the market for industrial space has softened somewhat. Housing markets have been mostly stable, with scattered signs of improvement. Finally, bankers report strengthening demand for commercial loans and mortgages but weaker demand for home mortgage loans; they also indicate little change in credit standards and steady to lower delinquency rates.
Construction and Real Estate
Housing markets across the District have been generally stable since the previous report, with pockets of mild improvement. An authority on New Jersey’s housing industry reports that the market has been performing slightly better in early 2011, as the negative aftermath of last year’s homebuyer tax credit appears to have worn off. While there is still a sizable supply of existing homes on the market–including a large number of distressed properties–the inventory of available new homes in northern New Jersey is reported to be very low. The residential real estate market in metropolitan Buffalo also appears to have recovered to more normal levels of activity after several months of sluggish performance. There are signs of gradual improvement in Manhattan’s apartment rental market: Rents continued to rise at a moderate pace, the inventory of available units is described as tight, and fewer landlords are reported to be offering concessions than last year. Conditions in Manhattan’s co-op and condo market, on the other hand, appear to be holding steady: A major appraisal firm reports that prices are holding steady across the board and notes that, while contract activity fell noticeably in January, harsh weather is seen as the culprit, and transaction activity appears to be rebounding in February.