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From the Fed: Beige Book – Boston

Business contacts in the First District cite mixed results amid signs of improvement, although activity generally remains below year-earlier levels. Some respondents are beginning to hire and/or reverse pay cuts or freezes, or planning to in 2010. Prices are generally said to be stable. Contacts in a number of sectors express uncertainty about whether recent improvements will last, but most–outside of commercial real estate–expect recovery to take hold in 2010.

On Massachusetts real estate:

While sales continue to increase, median home prices continue to decline year-over-year in New England. The lone exception is the Boston area, where the median home price in September was up 6 percent from September 2008. In other areas, the median home price dropped between 2 percent and 8 percent year-over-year in September. It is difficult to determine what part of this median price drop can be attributed to increased sales of entry-level homes due to the tax credit. In New England condo markets, sales were up by at least 10 percent year-over-year, and prices were mixed.

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