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Lending on the Rise as Economy Recovers: Fed Report

JUN 4, 2014 5:12pm ET
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Lenders across the country reported increased demand from consumers and businesses, continuing a prevailing trend from earlier this year, according to a Federal Reserve report released Wednesday.

"Overall lending activity increased throughout the nation," said the Fed's quarterly economic survey, known as the Beige Book. "Roughly two-thirds of the districts reported rising loan demand, with particular strength reported in New York and San Francisco."

Fed districts including Philadelphia, Richmond, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City and Dallas all reported "more modest growth" in the second quarter, led by auto loans and residential real estate lending.

In New York, bankers reported "fairly widespread increases" in loan demand, especially for home mortgages, but noted a continued decline for refinancing. The same was true of the San Francisco district, which saw loan volumes increase and noted that credit quality remained "strong."

Bankers in Philadelphia appeared more cautious than their counterparts in their assessment of lending activity from the previous quarter. While they noted that loan demand for commercial and industrial loans as well as home equity lines continued to grow "slightly," they were circumspect of future prospects.

"Overall, most bankers remained guardedly optimistic for growth through the remainder of the year," according to the Fed's Beige Book. "Most see confidence building among consumers and businesses; however, most small businesses remain very cautious."

Demand for business and consumer credit was also higher in the Cleveland District with a greater number of applications for auto loans and more households tapping home equity lines of credit.

"The rise in demand for business credit that began in April is strengthening," the Beige Book said. "Requests were strongest for equipment financing, commercial real estate development, and mergers and acquisitions."

In Atlanta, bankers also noted increased demand for loan growth and lines of credit even among community banks.

But in the Richmond district, consumer lending declined at a slower pace since the previous survey.

"Although residential mortgage bankers reported slightly weaker lending, a West Virginia banker said that lower rates may boost lending moving forward," the report said.

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