WASHINGTON While lending conditions remained strong in most of the U.S. over the past six weeks, bankers in two regions are forecasting a slowdown, the Federal Reserve Board reported.
Virginia bankers said they are afraid higher oil prices and a sharp drop in the value of the euro could foreshadow an economic downturn, according to a Fed report released Wednesday.
Several commercial lenders reported that they were monitoring commercial real estate and hotel loans more closely because they believed these sectors could be particularly vulnerable in a slowing economy, the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond said in the report.
The Philadelphia Fed said that bankers in its district expected loan growth to be slow for the rest of the year, and cautioned that several institutions worried that rising costs and lagging deposit growth might limit their ability to meet planned loan and profitability levels.
These and other economic snapshots were included in the Feds Beige Book, a periodic survey of the central banks 12 districts. The Federal Open Market Committee considers the report when making interest rate decisions. The policymaking panel is next scheduled to meet Nov. 15.
Economists agreed the Fed is likely to leave interest rates the same at its next meeting.
The report shows that the economy is gradually lowering altitude and is getting ready for a soft landing, said Keitaro Matsuda, senior vice president and chief economist at Union Bank of California in San Francisco. That should give future assurance to the Fed that they dont have to change their current policy.
The report said lending activity and demand for new credits remained strong in most districts. The Federal Reserve Banks of Chicago and Atlanta reported solid lending performance, and the New York Fed described its activity as stable.
The Federal Reserve banks of Richmond, Kansas City, and Philadelphia reported that the pace of loan growth slowed in September and early October. The Dallas Fed reported that its lending was slower than a year ago.
Several districts expressed concerns about credit quality levels, though most said that overall quality was still good. Credit standards in the New York, Chicago, and San Francisco districts all tightened somewhat, while standards in the Kansas City and Philadelphia regions remained unchanged.
Higher credit standards generally indicate higher chargeoffs and delinquencies, said Sung Won Sohn, senior vice president and chief economist at Wells Fargo & Co. I would say that rising loan demand and higher delinquency rates are possible concerns for the banking sector.
While several areas reported increased deposit growth, there were signs that some districts were still stuck in a funding crunch.
Total deposits at banks have declined slightly. District banks continue to struggle to find funding sources for their (even mild) loan growth, the St. Louis Fed reported.
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