WASHINGTON — Banks are generally seeing improving credit quality and loan demand across the consumer and industrial sectors, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Federal Reserve Board.
The central bank's "Beige Book" found that "demand for business and consumer loans increased, aside from some seasonal slowing" while "credit quality remained strong or improved."
The seasonal soft spots for lending cited in the report were in areas like residential mortgages and auto loans, which tend to slow down as winter approaches.
The Fed's regional banks largely reported unchanged credit standards by lenders during the past six weeks, and few regions experienced broad-based declines in loan demand or volume.
Demand for commercial and industrial loans was up in some districts, notably in the New York and Philadelphia districts.
But that did not hold true everywhere. The Cleveland Fed said that C&I loan growth was "slower than desired" while commercial real estate remained robust.
CRE loans were also up in the Chicago district, the report said, to the point where "contacts worried that the market was overhearing."
The Richmond and Dallas Fed banks said that loan activity was largely unchanged or mixed, which the Richmond Fed said "some contacts attributed to uncertainty surrounding upcoming elections."
The Kansas City and Atlanta Fed banks said that deposits appeared to be increasing during the past six weeks, while the Atlanta Fed said that some banks were raising interest rates on certified deposits in order to attract more customers.
The St. Louis and New York Fed banks saw notable increases in residential real estate activity, with the St. Louis Fed citing a 20% increase in banks' volume of residential mortgages year-over-year and a 23% increase in overall loan activity. The San Francisco Fed, meanwhile, said that competition for borrowers "remained fierce."
The Richmond and San Francisco Fed banks noted that member banks remained concerned about regulatory costs, with the San Francisco Fed in particular saying that loan "regulatory costs and low interest rates continued to hold down profitability across the sector."