WASHINGTON — Demand for loans by consumers and businesses alike varied across the country with some parts reporting improvements, but most not citing the same loan category, a survey by the Federal Reserve Board said Wednesday.

The central bank's Beige Book, a periodic report on economic conditions at the Fed's 12 reserve banks, said bankers in New York reported greater demand for commercial and industry loans, but noticed little change in other loan categories.

That differed from the Chicago District, which cited consumer loans as its primary driver for growth and said business loan demand remained largely steady. For the Richmond District, it was a combination of factors: consumer lending, real estate loans for apartments, and commercial loans for larger companies.

Even while some reported improvement, albeit in different categories, there were other parts of the country that noted a decline in loan volume. The St. Louis District, for example, attributed sluggish demand to shortfalls in real estate lending and individual loans.

In Kansas City, bankers reported weaker demand for commercial and industrial loans, commercial real estate and consumer installment loans. Even so, bankers there said loan quality had improved compared with a year ago.

Other parts of the country — Philadelphia, Dallas and San Francisco Districts — remained steady, reporting little overall change.

In Philadelphia, bankers said "credit extended by banks in the region has been flat to slightly down. Expectations for better growth were not met for the most recent period — dampening expectations for anything but the slightest improvement in the near future, according to bank contacts," the survey said.

Separately, bankers reported demand for business loans in the Cleveland District as "soft."

Credit conditions stayed much the same with several districts reporting that credit quality was flat or somewhat improved, according to the Survey.

Bankers in the Chicago and Atlanta Districts reported that competition among lenders "for high-quality borrowers was squeezing banks' margins and lowering the cost of capital those borrowers."

In Atlanta, several contacts cited increased competition for qualified loans.

"Banking contacts reported that credit was available, but finding qualified borrowers continued to be difficult," said the survey.

The Chicago District reported similar findings noting that even as credit availability improved, standards remained tight for borrowers.

"Competition among lenders for the highest-quality customers has been stiff, lowering the cost of capital for these borrowers," the survey said.

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