Retailers, banks still optimistic about economy Fed report says businesses see economic improvement ahead.

December 04, 1991|By Penny Bender | Penny Bender,States News Service

Despite slow retail sales and sluggish interest in commercial and consumer loans, stores, manufacturers and banks remained optimistic about the Maryland economy, according to the Federal Reserve.

In its periodic review of the nation's economy, the Fed reported that retailers and other businesses don't believe the recession has reached its lowest point.

Despite that, they predicted the economy would improve in the coming months.

The Baltimore port reported to the Fed that exports and imports increased in October and September. Exports were expected to increase faster than imports during the next six months, as well, the Fed reported.

Shopper traffic, retail employment and capital expenditures were down, however. Retailers weren't optimistic about Christmas sales, either.

"Most said they would be pleased if this year's Christmas sales nearly matched last year's. Several retailers reported that they had started their seasonal sales promotions about two weeks earlier than usual," the Fed report said.

Manufacturers also reported that the recession continues to slow them down, the Fed said.

"However, manufacturers remain optimistic about general business conditions and about their prospects for the next six months," the Fed said.

Financial institutions called lending activity lackluster. Despite lower prime rate and interest rates, demand was weak for consumer and business loans. Home mortgage refinancing continued to increase, however.

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