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BUSINESS CONDITIONS
Monthly Review of Agriculture, Industry, Trade and Finance
Released for Publication on Afternoon of March 30, 1939

FEDERAL

RESERVE

Lincoln's Tomb, Springfield, III.

BANK

OF

ST*

LOUIS

SU M M A R Y OF EIGHTH DISTRICT

a

1939 comp, with acreage
planted
1938
Av. 1929-38

.

Agriculture:
Prospective acreage, chief crops.........—
„

1-2%— 2.5%

Feb., 1939, comp, with

Live Stock:
Jan., 1939 Feb., 1938
Receipts at National Stock Yards...... — 12.9% + 0.1%
Shipments from aforesaid Yards..........— 9.2 + 3.2
Production and Distribution:
Sales by mfrs. and wholesalers.......... — 4.6 + 2.6
Department store sales........................ — 5.3 — 1.4
Car loadings......................................... — 6.8 + 7.7
Building and Construction:
•
du
i
/ Number + 4.3 + 5.1
Bldg. permits, mcl. repairs | Cost
£ 3 5 9
+ 1 4 7 .0
Value construc. contracts awarded___+ 30.6 +159.2
Miscellaneous:
,
/ Number...........+ 15.6 — 32.7

n
r
Commercial failures j

Liabilities...... +

1 4 .7

4 - 17.4

Consumption of electricity...................+ 2.2 + 1 3 .7
Debits to individual accounts..............— 14.6 + 4.2
Mar. 15. ’39, como. with

Member Banks (24):
Feb. 15, ’39 Mar. 16, ’33
Gross deposits...................................... + 1.3% + 11.7%
Loans.....................................................— 0.3 + 0.4
Investments.......................................... + 6.0 + 1 9 . 0

Eighth District commerce and industry during
February and early March, while continuing well
above a year ago, developed moderately recession­
ary trends as contrasted with the relatively high
rate of activity during the final quarter of 1938
and January this year. In a number of important
lines of manufacturing and trade, expected seasonal
expansion failed to appear, or was less pronounced
than is ordinarily the case at this time of year.
Industrial production in February, when consid­
eration is given to the usual seasonal variations,
fell slightly below January. Relatively the greater
decline was in durable goods as contrasted with
nondurable commodities, but in both categories
output was appreciably larger than a year ago. At
iron and steel plants activities were well sustained,
production and shipments being about on a parity
with January, but there was a reduction in incom­
ing business and a moderate decline in backlogs of
unfilled orders. At mid-March ingot production
was at 60 per cent of capacity, the best since Oc­
tober, 1937, and comparing with 55 per cent a
month earlier and 37 per cent a year ago. Con­
sumption of electric current by industrial users in
the principal centers in February was slightly
greater than the preceding month and about 14 per
cent more than in February, 1938.
Building activities in February, as measured by
permits issued in the principal cities and contract
awards included in the F. W . Dodge Corporation
survey, declined from the high levels recorded dur­
ing the closing months of 1938, but were consider­
Page 2



ably higher than in February a year ago. Demand
for all descriptions of building materials was ac­
tive, and orders on hand and inquiries indicate that
the present rate will continue into the summer.
Production of lumber by district mills continued
measurably above a year ago, and shipments for the
first ten weeks this year were larger by approxi­
mately 14 per cent than in the comparable period
in 1938. There was a rather sharp decline in out­
put of Portland cement in this area from January
to February, but production for the first two months
was about 10 per cent greater than in the like period
last year. Manufacturers of glass, fire clay prod­
ucts, plumbing supplies and some other building
materials reported moderate decreases in produc­
tion in February from the preceding month.
As was the case in the entire country, production
of bituminous coal in February at mines in this
general area declined in about the usual seasonal
amount from January, but was 24.9 per cent above
output in February last year. Lead and zinc pro­
duction by district mines was smaller in February
than either in January or February, 1938, reflecting
mainly slack demand for the refined metal and
lower prices. The steady increase in output of
crude oil in fields of this district, noted throughout
1938, was continued in January and February.
Distribution of merchandise through both retail
and wholesale channels in February and the first
two weeks in March reflected a considerable degree
of spottiness. Gauged by department store sales in
the principal cities, the volume of retail trade in
February was 5 per cent smaller than in January
and about 1 per cent less than a year ago; for the
two months this year an increase of 1 per cent was
recorded. Retail sales of new passenger cars, ac­
cording to reporting dealers in the St. Louis area,
were about 15 per cent larger than a year earlier,
and the decrease from January was about equal to
the average during the past decade. Combined
sales of all wholesaling and jobbing firms whose
statistics are available to this bank were 4.6 per
cent smaller in February than in January and 2.6
per cent larger than in February, 1938; cumulative
total for the first two months was approximately
8.5 per cent larger than for the comparable period
in 1938.
Commercial failures in the Eighth Federal Re­
serve District in February, according to Dun and
Bradstreet, numbered 37, involving liabilities of
$615,000, which compares with 32 defaults with
liabilities of $536,000 in January, and 55 insolvencies
for a total of $524,000 in February, 1938.

DETAILED SURVEY OF D ISTRICT
MANUFACTURING AND WHOLESALING
Lines of
Commodities

Net Sales
February, 1939
compared with
Jan., ’39 Feb., ’38

Dry Goods................................................ -1 1 ,8 %
Electrical Supplies....................................
+20.2
Furniture................................................... — 8.4
Groceries................................................... — 8.1
Hardware.................................................. — 5.5
Tobacco and its products.........................
+ 3.3
Miscellaneous............................................
— 0.4

+ 1.7%
+41.0
+10.3
— 4.4
— 0.7
— 7.2
+15.3

Stocks
Feb. 28, 1939
comp, with
Feb. 28, 1938
-1 1 .0 %
-4 2 .7
—31.8
— 6.3
— 8.9
—26.7
— 3.0

Data furnished by Bureau of the Census, United States Department of Com­
merce.

With the exception of dry goods and furniture,
decreases in sales in the several lines shown in the
above table from January to February were season­
al in character, with the average for all classifica­
tions about in line with average experience during
the past decade. The increase in electrical supplies
was contrary to the seasonal trend, and was ac­
counted for largely by heavier sales of installations
in homes and purchasing by public utilities com­
panies. The small decrease in hardware sales as
compared with a year ago was caused in large meas­
ure by a reduced movement of commodities to the
rural areas. Unfavorable weather and flood condi­
tions in some sections tended to hold down distri­
bution of groceries.
February sales of reporting clothing firms were
more than one-half greater than in January, but 14
per cent smaller than in February, 1938. Drug
and chemical sales showed about the usual sea­
sonal decline during the two months this year, but
the volume was measurably greater than for the
like period a year ago. Inventories of all lines con­
tinued the recession which began early in 1938,
with the combined stocks of all classifications as of
March 1 approximately 16.7 per cent smaller than
on the same date last year. Through an error in
transcription, sales of boots and shoes in January
were given in the February issue of this review as
being 24 per cent less than in December and 27.4
per cent smaller than in January, 1938. Corrected,
the comparative figures show an increase in Janu­
ary sales of 18.5 per cent over December, and of
26.3 per cent over the January, 1938, total.
. Automobiles — Combined passenger car, truck
and taxicab production in the United States in Feb­
ruary totaled 297,841 against 339,152 in January and
186,523 in February, 1938.
Iron and Steel Products— While continuing well
above a year ago, volume of finished steel buying
in this area decreased somewhat during February
and early March from the relatively high rate in
December and early January. Consumption, how­
ever, is fairly well sustained as reflected in the in­




crease in steel ingot production at mills in the area.
At mid-March the rate was 60 per cent of capacity,
which compares with 55 per cent a month earlier
and 37 per cent a year ago. All buying groups,
both large and small, are disposed to order only
enough material for immediate or nearby require­
ments, which attitude has been emphasized by the
belief that prices for the second quarter would re­
main unchanged from current levels and the fact
that producers are for the most part in a position
to make relatively prompt deliveries.
Activities at steel casting plants and grey iron
foundries in February declined moderately from
January, and backlogs of unfinished orders were re­
ported smaller. There was a further recession in
operations at structural steel fabricating yards, the
rate being slightly below 25 per cent of capacity.
Inquiries on hand, however, indicate an expansion
of lettings during the next few weeks. While still
moderate, steel requirements of railroads have ex­
panded and constitute an important factor in busi­
ness of steel plants in this area.
Distribution of iron and steel goods by warehouse
and jobbing interests has declined sharply from the
rate prevailing during the final quarter last year.
February sales of these interests were 8 per cent
below January and approximately 10 per cent
smaller than in December. Production and ship­
ments of stove foundries declined from January to
February, but were measurably higher than in Feb­
ruary, 1938.
Production of pig iron for the entire country in
February, according to the magazine “ Steel” , was
2,059,203 tons, against 2,175,423 tons in January
and 1,306,333 tons in February, 1938. The decline
from January to February was accounted for by the
fact that February was a shorter month, as daily
average output was higher. Production of steel
ingots in the United States in February totaled
2,954,883 tons, against 3,186,834 tons in January and
1,703,726 tons in February last year.
W H ISK E Y

As of mid-March there were 37 of the 60 whiskey
distilleries in Kentucky in operation. This com­
pares with 32 active distilleries out of a total of 63
a month earlier. While five additional plants are
in production this month, two consolidations and
the destruction of one distillery by fire account for
the reduction in the total number of plants. In
January, the latest month for which complete fig­
ures are available, 4,325,787 gallons of bourbon
whiskey were produced by Kentucky distilleries,
Page 3

which represents a decrease of 8.1 per cent under
the January, 1938, output. On the other hand, there
were 1,626,715 tax-paid withdrawals from distiller­
ies in the state this January, an increase of 38.7
per cent over withdrawals in January, 1938. For
the industry as a whole, consumption is apparently
running well above current production, resulting in
further moderate betterment in the inventory posi­
tion.

According to the National Bituminous Coal Com­
mission, February production in the United States
amounted to 33,910,000 tons, against 35,530,000 tons
in January and 27,440,000 tons in February, 1938;
cumulative output for the first two months was
69,440,000 tons, against 58,390,000 tons for the same
interval a year ago. Mines in this area produced
2.8 per cent less coal in February than in January
and 24.9 per cent more than in February, 1938.

R E T A IL TRAD E

Illinois mines produced 4,390,462 tons in Febru­
ary, as against 4,423,376 tons in January and 3,388,278 tons in February, 1938. There were 119 mines
in operation during February, with 32,047 men on
payrolls, which compares with 120 active mines
and 31,778 operatives in January.

Department Stores— The trend of retail trade in
the Eighth District, as reflected in statistics of de­
partment stores in the principal cities which report
to this bank, is shown in the following comparative
statement:
Net Sales
____________________________
February, 1939 2 mos. 1939
compared with
to same
Jan., 1939 Feb., 1938 period 1938
Ft. Smith, Ark.......... .. +6.2%
+ 0.3% + 0 .0 4 %
Little Rock, Ark....... ..+7.6
+ 1.2
+ 4 .7
Louisville, K y ..............—3.6
— 2.4
— 9.5
Memphis, Tenn.......... ..—5.9
+ 4.4
+ 3.8
Pine Bluff, Ark.......... ..+5.9
+26.7
+16.8
Quincy, 111.................. ..+2.1
— 8.9
— 1.1
St. Louis, Mo............. ..—7.1
— 2.0
— 0.1
Springfield, Mo.......... ..—9.3
+ 4.8
+ 3.9
All Other Cities......... ..—4.0
+18.2
+14.6
8th F. R. District___ _—5.3
— 1.4
+ 0.8

Stocks
Stock
on Hand
Turnover
Feb. 28,1939 Jan.1 ,to
comp, with Feb. 28,
Feb. 28,1938 1939 1938
.39 .37
-5 .8 %
.46 .39
— 7.9
.52 .52
— 6.8
.54 .47
— 5.8
.36 .29
— 6.4
—14.4
.47 .39
— 8.6
.67
.40
— 6.7
.43 .38
+ 5.9
.54
— 7.7

Percentage of accounts and notes receivable out­
standing February 1, 1939, collected during Feb­
ruary, by cities:
Installment
Accounts
Fort Smith............. %
Little Rock.... 16.7
Louisville........ 13.2
Memphis.........26.0
Pine Bluff................

Excl. Inst’l
Accounts
36.7% '
37.2
47.8
39.2
34.8

Installment
Accounts
Quincy........................ %
St. Louis............ 20.2
Springfield..................
Other Cities...... 13.9
8th F. R. Dist... 19.3

Excl. Inst’l
Accounts
40.6%
52.2
34.7
51.4
47.1

Specialty Stores— February results in men’s fur­
nishings and boot and shoe lines are shown in the
following table:
Net Sales____________
February, 1939
2 mos. 1939
compared with
to same
Jan., 1939 Feb., 1938 period 1938
Men’s Furnishings_ —20.3%
_
—8.7%
— 9.5%
Boots and Shoes.......+ 7 . 8
+ 2 .3
+ 5 .8

Stocks
Stock
on Hand
Turnover
Feb. 28, 1939 Jan. 1, to
comp, with
Feb. 28,
Feb. 28, 1938 1939 1938
—13.2%
.37
.33
+ 7 .7
.86 .78

Percentage of accounts and notes receivable out­
standing February 1, 1939, collected during Feb­
ruary :
Men’s Furnishings................ 35.9%

Boots and Shoes......................... 35.7%

MINING AND O IL

There was a slight advance in industrial inven­
tories of bituminous coal during January, continu­
ing the upward trend of the preceding seven
months. The February 1 total was about 1 per
cent higher than on January 1, the smallest increase
recorded during the seven-month period. As was
the case in the country as a whole, production of
soft coal at mines in this general area fell some­
what below January, but output for the first two
months this year was 17.2 per cent greater than
during the comparable period in 1938.
Page 4




Petroleum— In states of the Eighth District,
January production of crude oil was 7.6 per cent
greater than in December and 128.8 per cent more
than in January, 1938. Stocks on February 1 were
2.6 per cent and 7 per cent greater, respectively,
than a month and a year earlier. Detailed produc­
tion and stock figures by states are given in the fol­
lowing table:
(In thousands
of barrels)

Production

Stocks

Jan., 1939

Dec., 1938

Jan., 1938

Jan., 1939

1,556
3,981

1,286
1,128

Kentucky.............

1,593
4,446
57
520

88

523

66

411

2,373
12,130
3,300
1,204

2,441
11,340
3,031
952

Totals...............

6,616

6,148

2,891

19,007

17,764

Arkansas.........

Jan.,1

TR A N SPO R TA TIO N

Freight traffic of railroads operating in this dis­
trict, according to officials of the reporting lines,
recorded a small contraseasonal decline in Febru­
ary and the first days of March. Withal volume for
the first two months this year exceeded that of the
same period a year ago by a fair margin. The in­
crease was accounted for largely by heavier load­
ings of miscellaneous freight and coal.
The St. Louis Terminal Railway Association,
which handles interchanges for 28 connecting lines,
interchanged 74,568 loads in February, as against
80,046 loads in January and 69,249 loads in Febru­
ary, 1938. During the first nine days of March the
interchange amounted to 23,720 loads, compared
with 24,477 loads during the corresponding period
in February and 22,885 loads during the first nine
days of March, 1938. Passenger traffic of the re­
porting lines in February fell 2 per cent in number
of passengers carried and 4 per cent in revenue as
compared with the same month a year ago.
For the entire country, loadings of revenue
freight for the first ten weeks this year, or to
March 11, totaled 5,790,234 cars, against 5,521,875
cars for the comparable period in 1938 and 6,952,-

734 cars in 1937. Estimated tonnage of the Fed­
eral Barge Line between St. Louis and New Or­
leans in February was 125,000 tons, against 183,449
tons in January and 155,487 tons in February, 1938;
for the first two months this year cumulative ton­
nage was 308,449 tons, as compared with 331,968
tons for the same time a year ago.
AGRICULTURE
The following table, based on the March report
of the U. S. Department of Agriculture, shows in­
tended plantings in 1939 by farmers in states in­
cluding the Eighth District, also the number of
acres of the several crops planted in the preceding
year and the ten year (1929-38) average:
Acreage (in thousands)
Planted
-----------------------------------Average 1929-38
1938
Barley...........................
Corn..............................
Cowpeas........................
Oats..............................
Peanuts.........................
Potatoes........................
R ice..............................
Soy Beans.....................
Sweet Potatoes............
Tame H ay....................
Tobacco........................
Totals........................

367
29,231
1,016
7,815
100
312
163
2,978
221
11,446
564
54,213

368
27,662
1,052
7,254
94
288
189
4,087
228
11,760
541
53,523

Indicated
1939

1939
percent of
1938 acreage

469
26,936
1,042
6,597
97
282
181
4,528
214
12,022
506

127
97
99
91
103
98
96
111
94
102
94

52,874

99

General Fanning Conditions— Weather conditions
in the Eighth District during the past thirty days
have been less favorable than was the case earlier
in the season. Excessive rains and more or less
severe floods along the Mississippi River and sev­
eral of its principal tributaries have retarded plow­
ing and preparations for planting spring crops. On
the whole, however, farm work is up to, or slightly
in advance of the usual seasonal schedule, for the
reason that the open fall and early winter per­
mitted almost uninterrupted farm work, and more
than the ordinary amount of clearing and breaking
the soil was accomplished. This is true particularly
in the cotton and rice sections where only a limited
amount of work on fields will be necessary to get
them in shape for seeding. Except in areas direct­
ly affected by the overflows, the abundant precipi­
tation is expected to be more beneficial than other­
wise, insuring abundant subsoil moisture and in
many sections, replenishing depleted water sup­
plies. The condition of fall sown grains has been
greatly helped by the rainfall.
Prices of farm products during February and
early March underwent only minor changes, but
continued measurably below those during the sim­
ilar periods in recent years. As of the week ended
March 11, the farm products group of the U. S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics index stood at 68.0 per
cent of the 1926 average, which compares with 66.7
per cent on February 11; 71.7 per cent on March




12, 1938; 93.6 per cent on March 13, 1937; 76.4 per
cent on March 14, 1936, and 79.2 per cent on March
16, 1935.
Cotton—While recent heavy precipitation has in­
terfered with field work, preparations for the new
cotton crop in the Eighth District are well ad­
vanced. Owing to the open fall and early winter
farmers in most sections were well up with their
breaking before the wet weather began. Appar­
ently farmers will use more than the average
amount of fertilizer in producing the 1939 crop.
According to the National Fertilizer Association,
sales of fertilizer tags in states partly or entirely
within this district in February were 180 per cent
greater than in January, 12 per cent larger than in
February, 1938, and 36.5 per cent in excess of the
February, 1937, total.
Demand for spot cotton in this territory has im­
proved moderately since the last week in February,
both from domestic mills and for export. For the
first half of the current season domestic consump­
tion of cotton was above that for the comparable
period a year earlier. On the other hand, accord­
ing to the U. S. Bureau of Agricultural Economics,
exports of domestic cotton this season from August
through February were the smallest for this period
in 57 years. Since the first of March the trend of
prices has been moderately upward. In the St.
Louis market the middling grade ranged from 7.80f$
to 8.15^ per pound between February 15 and March
15, closing at 8.10$ on the latter date, which com­
pares with 7.85^ on February 15 and 8.50^ on
March 15, 1938.
Combined receipts at Arkansas and Missouri
compresses from August 1, 1938, to March 10, 1939,
totaled 1,547,978 bales, as against 2,035,571 bales
for the same period a year earlier. Stocks on hand
as of March 10 totaled 1,596,668 bales, which com­
pares with 972,246 bales on the corresponding date
in 1938. According to the Arkansas Cotton Trade
Association, there are less than 100,000 bales of
the stock on hand not involved in the Government
loan. Through March 9, the Commodity Credit
Corporation received reports on a total of 4,336,000
bales from the 1938 crop pledged on Government
loans. As of that date the loan stocks were slightly
in excess of 11,250,000 bales.
Livestock — Moderate recessions in wholesale
prices of most grades of beef, veal and lamb marked
the meat and livestock situation during February.
Wholesale prices of pork advanced somewhat dur­
ing the month. Marketings of all classes of meat
animals in February are estimated to have been
Page 5

below the same month last year and substantially
under January this year, but, with the exception
of hogs, somewhat higher than the average for Feb­
ruary during the five-year (1929-1933) period.

pounds sold in the 1937-1938 season at an average
of $7.38 per cwt.

Quite generally throughout the district, the con­
dition of livestock maintained the high average
noted during the past several months. The U. S.
Department of Agriculture estimates that for the
entire country the early lamb crop will be slightly
smaller than the large early crop last year. In
states of this district, however, conditions are rela­
tively more favorable than in the western growing
sections. In Missouri, the principal early lambing
state, the winter has been generally auspicious for
ewes, and early lambs are in excellent condition,
with prospects for a 5 per cent larger early lamb
crop this year than last.
Receipts and shipments at St. Louis as reported
by the National Stock Yards were as follows:

Range of prices in the St. Louis market between
February 15, 1939, and March 15, 1939, with closing quotations on the latter date and on March 15,
1938, follow s:

Receipts
Feb.,
1939

Jan.,
1939

Cattle and Calves........... 75,902 82,919
Hogs................................ 188,623 223,276
Horses and Mules............
3,253
5,601
Sheep...............................
36,846 37,939

Shipments
Feb.,
1938

Feb.,
1939

77,339
173,603
6,741
46,596

45,646 50,418 46,415
121,190 135,528 112,863
3,444
5,867
6,725
11,200
8,027
9,831

Totals........................... 304,624 349,735 304,279

Jan.,
1939

Feb.,
1938

181,480 199,840 175,834

Tobacco— Marketing of the various types of to­
bacco in the Eighth District 1938 crop was effected
with greater dispatch than has been the case in a
number of years. While recent wet weather has
interfered with outdoor work, fair progress has
been made by growers in burning and preparing
seed beds for the coming season.
Most recent semi-official figures indicate a burley
crop of about 353,000,000 pounds, which sold at an
average of $19.03 per cwt. The deduction of re­
sales will reduce the crop to 338,000,000 pounds,
which is considerably less than the Government es­
timate of 387,000,000 pounds. This compares with
net sales of approximately 407,000,000 pounds for
the 1937 crop at an average of $20.09 per cwt.
In the western dark fired district, late sales con­
firm rather extensive damage to the crop from wild
fire rust, mainly in the form of reduced weight and
quality. In this district sales in the week ended
March 11 averaged $10.04 per cwt., against an av­
erage of $9.74 last year. Foreign buyers, particu­
larly Spanish interests, were active bidders for this
crop. With average quality below normal, all
choice tobacco offered has commanded top prices.
Virtually all of the air cured one sucker crop has
been sold. Final figures indicate that 13,500,000
pounds were disposed of at an average price of
$6.00 per cwt. This compares with 24,000,000
Page 6




COM M ODITY PRICES

Close
High
Wheat
*M ay.................... per bu..
“
*July......................
*Sept....................
“
No. 2 red winter
No. 2 hard “
Corn
*M ay....................
«
*July....................
“
*Sept....................
“
No. 2 m ixed. .. .
No. 2 w h ite.......
“
Oats
“
*M ay....................

.65%
.65%
.66%
.75
.74

$ .64
•
64%
.65%
•
72%
•
71H

.45%
.46%
•
47%
.49
•
51^
■
28H
.27

“

-July................

Low

Mar. 15, 1939

.87%
.84%
MU
.8m
.90M

.43%
.45%
A8H
.51

.58%
.59%
.60%
.59
.58%

.27^
.26
.25%
.31

.27%
■
26H
■
25%
.33

•
32%
.30%
.30%
•
32%

3.90
5.25
.0780
7.35

per lb . . . . .0815
per cwt. .. 8.13
*Nominal quotations.

.64% $
.64%
.65%
•
73^
•
71%

•
43%
.44%
.45%
.47
.50%

“
*Sept....................
.27
No. 2 white.......
.33
Flour
Soft patent........ per b b l. .. 5.25
Spring “ ........ .
5.55

$

Mar. 15, 1938

3.90 @5.25
5.25 @5.55
.0810
7.35

4.50 @ 4.75
5.80 @6.20
.0850
9.07

BUILDING

The dollar value of permits issued for new con­
struction in the five largest cities of the district in
February was 46.9 per cent more than in January
and 228.9 per cent greater than in February, 1938.
According to statistics compiled by the F. W .
Dodge Corporation, construction contracts let in
the Eighth District in February amounted to $17,324,000 which compares with $13,261,000 in Janu­
ary and $6,683,000 in February, 1938. Building fig­
ures for February follow :
New Construction
(Cost in
thousands)

Permits
1939
1938

Evansville
Little R ock__
Louisville........
Memphis.........
St. Louis.........

8
18
72
288
185

12
9
82
145
124

Feb. Totals.. 571
Jan.
“ . . . . 454

Repairs, etc.

Cost
1939
1938

372
276

Permits
1939
1938

Cost
1939
1938

20
105
1,517
363
577

$ 26
13
253
150
343

61
56
28
115
105

65
68
43
179
164

$ 39
12
22
61
122

$ 27
15
9
60
253

2,582
1,758

785
642

365
443

519
405

256
331

364
445

$

CONSUMPTION OF ELE C TR IC ITY

Public utilities companies in six large cities of the
district report consumption of electric current by
selected industrial customers in February as being
2.2 per cent more than in January and 13.7 per cent
greater than in February, 1938. Detailed figures
follow :
(K. W. H.
In thous.)

> of
.
ers

Little Rock..
Louisville__
Memphis. . . .
Pine B luff.. .
St. Louis. . , .

Feb.,
1939
K.W.H.

Jan.,
1939
K.W.H.

Feb.,
1938
K.W.H.

40
33
82
31
20
209

2,865
1,802
8,330
2,181
944
19,617

2,937
1,810
8,271
2,113
848
18,993

2,049
1,665
7,396
2,281
883
17,147

- 2.5%
— 0.4
+ 0.7
+ 3.2
+11.3
+ 3.3

+39.8%
+ 8.2
+12.6
— 4.4
+ 6.9
+14.4

415

35,739

34,972

31,421

+ 2.2

+13.7

3m -

February, 1939
compared with
Jan., 1939 Feb., 1938

BANKING AND FINANCE

Taken as a whole, trends which have obtained in
Eighth District banking and finance during the past
several months continued with but minor variations
during February and the first half of March. De­
mand for credit from virtually all the principal bor­
rowing groups, as well as the lesser interests, re­
mained sluggish, while deposits moved further up­
ward. Reflecting these conditions, interest rates
were unchanged.
At both city and country banks, liquidation of
earlier commitments was in considerable volume,
exceeding in most instances new loans and renew­
als. While this was accounted for to some extent
by seasonal considerations, other contributing in­
fluences were the generally high rate of collections
with a majority of mercantile lines, reduced inven­
tories, lower price levels, and the almost universal
policy of merchants to purchase only for immediate
or well defined future requirements. Liquidation of
loans by grain handling and milling interests was
in somewhat greater than usual seasonal volume.
Member Banks— As of March 15, loans and in­
vestments of weekly reporting member banks in
the principal cities were 3.2 per cent more than a
month earlier. The increase was caused by larger
holdings of Government securities, particularly
Treasury bills and notes. Changes in loans were
negligible. The trend of gross deposits continued
upward and at mid-March totaled slightly over a
billion dollars, the highest of record, and 11.7 per
cent greater than on the same report date in 1938.
Statement of the principal resource and liability
items of the reporting member banks follows:
(In thousands of dollars)

Mar. 15,
1939

Feb. 15,
1939

Mar. 16,
^1938

Loans—total.........................................................
$308,262 $309,332 $306,983
Commercial, industrial, and agricultural...... .. . 178,162
188,412
177,516
Open market paper.......................................... . . 3,190
3,784
9,928
Loans to brokers and dealers.........................
5,674
6,111
4,661
12,774
Other loans to purchase or carry securities
12,025
11,843
Real Estate loans............................................
49,470
48,232
46,765
Loans to banks................................................
5,266
6,777
6,518
Other loans......................................................
54,475
55,069
37,925
416,776
393,139
350,379
Investments—total...............................................
3,270)
27,650
Treasury bills..................................................
75,977 [ 203,512
Treasury notes................................................
65,365
U. S. bonds.....................................................
159,111
149,577)
63,072
49,684
Obligations guaranteed by U. S. Gov’t ........
63,738
100,912
Other securities...............................................
101,243
97,183
901,564
1,007,069
994,089
Gross deposits.....................................................
Demand deposits............................................
811,941
800,227* 710,515
Time deposits..................................................
193,862* 191,049
195,128
Borrowings..........................................................
•Revised figures.
Above figures are for 24 member banks in St. Louis, Louisville, Memphis, Little
Rock, and Evansville. 1 heir resources comprise approximately 62.0% of the
resources of all member banks in this district.

The aggregate amount of savings deposits held
by selected member banks on March 1 was 0.5 per
cent greater than on February 1, and 2.6 per cent
more than on March 2, 1938.
Interest rates charged at downtown St. Louis
banks as of the week ended March 15 were as fol­




lows: Customers’ prime commercial paper, 1% to
5 per cent; collateral loans, 2 to 5% per cent;
loans secured by warehouse receipts, 1% to 5%
per cent; interbank loans, 2 to 5 per cent and cattle
loans, 4 to 6 per cent.
Federal Reserve Operations—The volume of the
major operations of the Federal Reserve Bank of
St. Louis (including its Louisville, Memphis and
Little Rock branches), during February, 1939, is
indicated by the following figures:
Pieces
Collections (non-cash items) handled.
Transfers of funds................................
Rediscounts, advances and commitments...............
New issues, redemptions, and exchanges of securi­
ties as fiscal agent of U. S. Govt., etc..................
Bills and securities in custody—coupons clipped----

Amounts

4,768,082
74,983
4,219
7,946,787
8,395,194
12

$ 930,943,747
27,616,584
220,574,491
26,353,061
825,358
383,200

12,521
8,298

17,004,470

Changes in the principal assets and liabilities of
this bank appear in the following table:
Mar. 18,
1939

(In thousands of dollars)
Industrial advances under Sec. 13b----Other advances and rediscounts...........
Bills bought (including participations).
U. S. securities......................................

Feb. 18,
1939

Mar. 18,
1938

$

$

$

21
100
2
120,289

23
90
2
119,823

201
300
2
114,742

120,412

119,938

115,245

349,001
284,470
179,499

332,309
269,096
179,333

286,893
217,354
178,339

Industrial commitments under Sec. 13b.

462

418

485

Ratio of reserve to deposit
and F. R. Note liabilities....................

75.2%

74.1%

72.5%

Total earning assets.
Total reserves...................
Total deposits...................
F. R. Notes in circulation.

Following are the rates of this bank for accommodations under the Federal Reserve A ct:
(1) Rediscounts and advances to member banks, under
Sections 13 and 13a..................................................................1H% per annum
Advances to member banks, under Section 10b....................... 2 % per annum
3) Rediscounts, purchases, and advances to member banks,
nonmember banks and other financing institutions
under Section 13b:
(a) On portion for which such institution is obligated........ 3M% per annum
(b) On remaining portion......................................................4 % per annum
(4) Commitments not exceeding six months to member
banks, nonmember banks and other financing institu­
tions, to rediscount, purchase, or make advances,
under Section 13b.................................................................... H% flat
(5) Advances to established industrial or commercial (4 % to
businesses, under Section 13b.................................. .......
( 5H% per annum
(6) Advances to individuals, firms and corporati9ns,
including nonmember banks, secured by direct obliga­
tions of United States under Section 13................................. 4 % per annum

Debits to Individual Accounts— The following
comparative table of debits to individual accounts
reflects spending trends in this district:
(In thousands
of dollars)

El Dorado, Ark..
Greenville, Miss---Helena, Ark............
Little Rock, A rk ...
Owensboro, Ky.
Pine Bluff, Ark.
Quincy, 111........
Sedalia, Mo..............
Springfield, Mo.........
Texarkana, Ark.-Tex.

(Completed March 23,1939)

Jan.,
1939

Feb.,
1939
.t’l
$ 28,786
4,458
23,438
10,235
4,811
1,148
32,636
138,198
100,422
6,513
6,318
6,263
478,183
1,691
11,235
6,245
$860,580

$

31,820
5,849
30,193
12,244
4,938
1,626
35,321
164,564
134,027
8,104
7,494
7,461
541,570
1,895
13,831
7,160

$1,008,097

Feb.,
1938
$

25,959
4,695
21,799
9,956
5,146
1,784
29,070
138,116
106,717
5,756
6,479
5,990
445,067
2,303
10,947
6,142

$ 825,926

Feb., 1939 comp.with
Jan., 1939 Feb., 1938
- 9.5%
—23.8
—22.4
—16.4
— 2.6
—29.4
— 7.6
—16.0
—25.1
—19.6
—15.7
—16.1
—11.7
—10.8
—18.8
—12.8

+10.9%
— 5.0
+ 7.5
+ 2.8
— 6.5
—35.7
+12.3
+ 0.1
— 5.9
+13.2
— 2.5
+ 4.6
+ 7.4
—26.6
+ 2.6
+ 1.7

—14.6

+ 4.2

Page 7

NATIONAL SU M M ARY OF BUSINESS CONDITIONS
BY BOARD OP GOVERNORS OP PBDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM
IN D U S T R IA L P R O D U C T IO N

Index of physical volume of production, adjusted for seasonal
variation, 1923-1925 average = 100. By months, January, 1934,
to February, 1939. Latest figure 98.
C O N S T R U C T IO N

C O N T R A C T S AW A R D ED

Three-month moving averages of F. W. Dodge Corporation data for
value of contracts awarded in 37 Eastern States, adjusted for seasonal
variation. Latest figures based on data for December and January
and estimate for February.
FACTO RY

EM PLOYM ENT

In February industrial activity continued at the January rate,
without showing the usual rise, and retail trade increased less than
seasonally. In the first three weeks of March, however, industrial
activity and trade showed seasonal increases.
Commodity prices
continued to show little change.
Production—Volume of industrial production was at about the
same rate in February as in the two previous months, although usual­
ly there is an increase, and the Board’s seasonally adjusted index
declined further to 98 per cent of the 1923-1925 average. In the steel
industry activity did not show the usual seasonal advance. Pig iron
production increased, but new orders for steel were in limited volume
and ingot production remained at about 54 per cent of capacity
throughout the month. There was some decline in automobile as­
semblies, following a period of considerable increase. Output of lum­
ber and plate glass continued to decerase in February, while cement
production, which had been curtailed in January, increased consid­
erably. In the first three weks of March steel production increased
to about 56 per cent of capacity and automobile output was also in
somewhat larger volume.
Textile production in February was at about the same rate as in
January. At cotton and woolen mills activity increased somewhat
but at silk mills there was a marked decline. Output of shoes and
tobacco products continued at high levels. In the meat-packing in­
dustry activity declined further and there was also a decrease in
activity at sugar refineries. Bituminous coal production was main­
tained in February, and crude petroleum output likewise continued
in substantial volume. Anthracite output declined in February and
in March was reduced further as mine owners and workers agreed on
a curtailment program.
Value of construction contracts awarded declined in February,
according to F. W. Dodge Corporation figures, owing principally to
a further decrease in awards for publicly-financed work. Contracts
for privately-financed residential building increased further, while
awards for private nonresidential building remained at the low level
of other recent months.
Employment—Factory employment and payrolls increased some­
what less than is usual between the middle of January and the middle
of February. Changes in nonmanufacturing lines were largely of a
seasonal nature.
Distribution—Department store sales were in about the same vol­
ume in February as in January, although some increase is usual, and
sales at variety stores increased less than seasonally, while mail order
sales rose by slightly more than the seasonal amount. In the early
part of March department store sales increased.
Freight-car loadings declined somewhat from January to February,
reflecting for the most part reduced shipments of grains, forest prod­
ucts, and miscellaneous freight.

Index of number employed, adjusted for seasonal variation,
1923-1925 average = 100, By months, January, 1934, to February,
1939. Latest figure 91.3.
M O N E Y R A T E S IN N E W Y O R K C IT Y

For weeks ending January 6, 1934, to March 18, 1939.

Page 8




Commodity Prices—Wholesale commodity prices were generally
maintained with little change during February and the first three
weeks of March. As is usual at this season prices of livestock and
meats increased while dairy products declined. Silk prices advanced
considerably in this period. In the early part of March current
prices of pig iron and of semi-finished and finished steel were re­
affirmed for the second quarter of this year.
Bank Credit—Investments in United States Government obliga­
tions by New York City banks increased considerably in February
and the first half of March. In this period member banks reduced
their holdings of Treasury notes and increased their bonds, reflecting
in part exchanges of notes for new bond issues on March 15. Excess
reserves of member banks continued somewhat below the high level
of $3,600,000,000 reached at the end of January, fluctuating largely in
accordance with changes in Treasury balances at the Federal
Reserve banks.
Money Rates—Average yields on United States Government se­
curities declined to new record low levels from February 27 to March
10, following the announcement by the Treasury that no cash would
be raised in the March financing. Yields rose slightly after the middle
of March accompanying renewed tension in Europe. New issues of
91-day Treasury bills continued to sell on practically a no-yield basis
during March. Other open-market rates continued unchanged.


Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, One Federal Reserve Bank Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63102