Loan demand was up and credit quality was stable in much of the country during the last six weeks, the Federal Reserve Board reported Wednesday.

"Lenders were upbeat in most districts," according to the Fed's Beige Book, a periodic summary of economic conditions around the country. "The only district reporting a decline in overall lending was St. Louis."

The 12 Federal Reserve banks compile the report to help central bankers set monetary policy. The Federal Open Market Committee next meets on March 30.

Commercial real estate activity, "already at a high level, grew at a brisk pace in most districts," according to the report. Residential construction was also strong in most regions.

The Chicago Fed said credit quality improved and the New York Fed said delinquency rates were lower on all types of loans. However, the Cleveland Fed reported higher delinquency rates and the San Francisco Fed said credit quality on the Oregon coast had deteriorated.

- Barbara A. Rehm

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