Highlights from the Federal Reserve’s survey of economic conditions nationwide. The survey, released Wednesday and known as the Beige Book, is based on information collected from the Fed’s 12 regional bank districts.


(This region covers Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and part of Connecticut.)

Non-auto retailers were the bright spot. Even those with lower sales said results were “better than expected.” Tight credit and reduced demand forced auto sales down 10 to 50 percent.

Many manufacturers faced double-digit declines in sales and orders. Three-fourths planned to cut local employment and freeze or reduce compensation. Service industries also saw demand fall as client companies cut back or merged.

Commercial and residential real estate “remain in the doldrums,” with commercial deals worth more than $10 million “largely dormant.” Home sales plunged in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine and Connecticut, but rose 1 percent in New Hampshire. Improved attendance at open houses and lower housing prices inspired some hope of a turnaround.



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