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MONTHLY REVIEW CREDIT, BUSINESS AND AGRICULTURAL CONDITIONS WILLIAM W. HOXTON, RICHMOND, VIRGINIA C h a irm a n a n d F e d e r a l R e s e r v e A g e n t FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF RICHMOND MAY 31, 1932 some seasonal increase in painting, USINESS in nearly all l i n e s FIFTH FEDERAL RESERVE DISTRICT gardening, etc. Coal production in marked time during April and April was materially below produc early May in the Fifth Federal re tion in April 1931. Consumption of serve district. There was some sea cotton in the Fifth district mills last sonal increase in trade in certain lines, month was less than consumption in but on the whole the rise was less April 1931, and consumption in the than usually occurs in the spring. country as a whole declined even Trade in every line is on a noticeably more, but exports of cotton increased lower level than it was a year ago. over April 1931 exports, Cotton At the Federal Reserve Bank of Rich prices declined between the middle of mond, rediscounts for member banks April and the middle of May to the declined between April IS and May lowest level since last October, and IS, at a season when they are ex closely approached the all-time low. pected to increase. The circulation of Tobacco manufacturers reported a Federal reserve notes declined last lower output in April in comparison month, but not more than seasonally, and therefore the decrease did not with the output in April last year. indicate any material reduction in hoarded funds. In Retail sales last month in department stores in the cooperation with a System policy, the Richmond re Fifth district averaged about 21 per cent less than serve bank materially increased its holdings of Gov sales in April last year, and sales in the first four ernment securities between the middle of April and months of 1932 were nearly 18 per cent less than the middle of May. Reporting member banks in lead sales in the corresponding four months of 1931. ing cities of the Fifth reserve district reduced their Wholesale sales in five leading lines were materially loans and discounts last month, contrary to seasonal below sales in April 1931, and in all lines except hard trend when agricultural loans for crop planting might ware were also less than sales in March of this year. be expected to increase the demand for credit. De The volume of construction work provided for by mand deposits in the reporting banks declined also, permits issued last month in Fifth district cities but by less than the decrease in loans, while time was very small, and does not offer hope of addi deposits increased moderately. The banks reduced tional employment for building tradesmen in the their rediscounts at the reserve bank during the month. near future. The outlook for agriculture this year Debits to individual accounts in clearing house banks is problematical. The weather was unusually cold in the leading cities of the Fifth district declined last in March and April, which held back premature month approximately 2 per cent under the debits of development of fruit buds and other crops, but the preceding month, but this decrease was seasonal some sections of the district have had insufficient and was probably a smaller reduction than occurs in rain to furnish moisture for seed germination. The most years. However, debits for the four weeks ended really unfavorable element in the agricultural May 11, 1932, were 21.7 per cent less than debits for situation, however, is the low price outlook for the four weeks ended May 13, 1931. Commercial leading money crops. failures in the Fifth district in April were less numer Reserve Bank Statement ous than failures in either March this year or April Total earning assets held by the Federal Reserve last year, but liabilities involved in April bankruptcies Bank of Richmond changed little during the month were, with two exceptions, the highest figures ever between April 15 and May 15, 1932. There was a reported for any month. No material improvement decline of $5,360,000 in rediscounts for member occurred in employment in April, although there was banks, chiefly in city banks, and holdings of open MONTHLY REVIEW 2 ITEMS Rediscounts held ...................... Open market paper.................... Government securities ............. Total earning assets............... Circulation of Fed. Res. notes.. Members’ reserve deposits Cash reserves ........................... Reserve ratio ........................... 000 omitted May 15 April 15 May 15 1932 1932 1931 $23,793 2,054 27,975 53,822 92,579 48,434 98,534 67.15 $29,153 2,455 22,831 54,439 96,076 47,588 98,776 65.60 $13,576 100 29,983 43,659 76,028’ 60,438 103,293 73.79 market paper also declined by $401,(X ), but the X Bank increased its holdings of Government securi ties by $5,144,000 during the month. There was a seasonal decrease in the actual circulation of Federal reserve notes during the period under re view, amounting to $3,497,000. Member banks in creased their reserve deposits between the middle of April and the middle of May by $846,000. The several changes enumerated, with others of lesser importance, slightly lowered the cash reserves of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, but the ratio of cash reserves to note and deposit liabilities combined rose 1.55 points during the past month. In comparison with condition figures on May 15, 1931, the figures for May 15, 1932, show marked changes in most items, indicating a greater use of reserve bank credit this year. Rediscounts for member banks rose by $10,217,000 during the year, and holdings of open m arket paper increased $1,954,000. On the other hand, the Bank decreased its holdings of Government securities by $2,008,000 between May 15 last year and May 15 this year. These changes resulted in a net increase of $10,163.000 in total earning assets during the year. The circulation of Federal reserve notes was $16,551,000 higher at the middle of May this year than a year ago, showing that hoarding of cur rency which began in the second half of 1931 con tinues. There has been a steady decline in note circulation since the first of this year, but the rate of decrease has not been greater than seasonal average, indicating that there has probably been little reduction in hoarded funds. Member bank reserve deposits at the reserve bank declined $12,004.000 between May 15, 1931, and May 15, 1932, due to material reductions in demand and time de posits on which reserves are calculated. The cash reserves of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond dropped by $4,759,000 during the year under dis cussion, and the ratio of cash reserves to note and deposit liabilities combined declined 6.64 points. Member Bank Statement The accompany table shows the principal items of condition reported by all member banks in twelve leading cities of the Fifth reserve district as of three dates, May 11 and April 13, 1932, and May 13, 1931, thus affording opportunity for com parison of the latest available figures with those of the preceding month this year and the correspond- ITEMS 000 omitted May 11 April 13 May 13 1932 1931 1932 Loans on stocks and bonds (in cluding Governments) _____ $132,686 $147,518 $160,163 212,659 214,968 262,630 All other loans_____________ 345,345 362,486 422,793 Total loans and discounts Investments in stocks and bonds 239,117 232,861 214,373 40,892 Reserve balance with F. R. Bk. 33,433 34,248 Cash in vaults........................... 15,238 12,625 12,781 Demand deposits ...................... 280,931 285,175 337,031 Time deposits ........................... 225,999 222,297 262,025 2,193 Borrowed from F. R. Bank 5,164 10,207 ing month last year. Forty-nine banks are included in the tabulation. There was a reduction in loans amounting to $17,141,000 in the forty-nine reporting banks be tween April 13 and May 11, both this year, of which amount $14,832,000 was in loans on stocks and bonds and $2,309,000 was in ordinary commer cial, agricultural and industrial loans. Investments in stocks and bonds rose by $6,256,000 last month. Reserve balances of the reporting banks at the reserve bank declined $815,000 between April 13 and May 11, and there was also a decrease in cash in vaults totaling $156,000. Deposits in the aggre gate changed very little last month, a decrease in demand deposits amounting to $4,244,000 being al most offset by an increase of $3,702,000 in time deposits. The Reduction in outstanding loans without a corresponding decrease in deposits en abled the reporting banks to reduce their borrow ing at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond by $5,043,000, approximately, 50 per cent of the amount they were borrowing at the middle of April. Comparison of the May 11, 1932, figures with those reported for May 13, 1931, shows a reduction of $77,448,000 in total loans and discounts during the year, of which $27,477,000 was in loans on stocks and bonds and $49,971,000 was in all other loans. Investments in stocks and bonds rose by $24,744,000 during the year. Aggregate deposits declined by $92,126,000 between May 13 last year and May 11 this year, and reserve balances of the reporting banks at the reserve bank declined by $7,459,0(X). Cash in vaults also decreased this year, by $2,613,000. On May 11 the forty-nine reporting banks were borrowing $2,971,000 more from the Federal reserve bank than they were borrowing a year earlier. Debits to Individual Accounts Aggregate payments by checks drawn on clear ing house banks in twenty-four cities of the Fifth Federal reserve district are shown in the accom panying table for three equal periods of four weeks, thus affording opportunity for comparison of the latest figures, for the four weeks ended May 11, 1932, with those for the preceding like period this year and the corresponding period a year ago. MONTHLY REVIEW CITIES Asheville, N. C____ Baltimore, Md............ Charleston, S. C____ Charleston, W. Va..... Charlotte, N. C.____ Columbia, S. C._____ Cumberland, Md......... Danville, Va.............. Durham, N. C_____ Greensboro, N. C.___ Greenville, S. C.-----Hagerstown, Md........ Huntington, W. Va..... Lynchburg, Va........... Newport News, Va..... Norfolk, Va............... Portsmouth, Va......... Raleigh, N. C.-------Richmond, Va............ Roanoke, Va............ . Spartanburg, S. C.— Washington, D. C---Wilmington, N. C.— Winston-Salem, N. C. Fifth District Totals ooo omitted Total debits, four weeks ended April 13, May 11, May 13, 1932 1932 1931 $ 7,977 265,949 10,568 26,413 32,212 13,833 5,233 4,305 13,482 9,303 9,111 5,713 10,936 12,036 6.781 3<579 3,345 12,849 97,586 18,910 5,862 197,300 7,511 20,003 $ 8,399 266,639 29,725 $ 10,737 352,321 15,695 38,036 41,177 18,158 7,216 5,394 19,868 17,314 15,243 8,289 15,679 15,310 10,350 46,008 4,151 15,947 111,377 24,476 9,000 221,076 11,558 27,678 $831,797 $847,554 $1,062,058 11,202 28.357 34,145 14,675 5,525 4,207 13,216 9,441 9,634 5,757 10,370 12,367 6,689 31,104 3,243 14,414 98,519 18.357 6,295 197,252 8,022 Total debits in the reporting cities during the four weeks ended May 11 this year totaled $15,757,000, or 1.9 per cent, less than debits during the immediately preceding four weeks, ended April 13, 1932, but the decline was seasonal and was due to the inclusion in the earlier period of quarterly payments around April 1 and income tax pay ments in March. Eight of the twenty-four report ing cities showed higher figures for the more re cent period. Among the larger centers, Hunting ton, Norfolk and Washington reported higher figures for the current four weeks, but Baltimore, Charleston, W. Va., Charlotte, Richmond and Winston-Salem reported lower figures. In comparison with debits reported for the four weeks ended May 13, 1931, those for the cor responding four weeks this year, ended May 11, 1932, show a total decline of $230,261,000, or 21.7 per cent, at least a considerable part of which was doubtless due to lower price levels this year. Everyone of the reporting cities showed lower figures for the 1932 priod. Time and Savings Deposits Time deposits in forty-nine regularly reporting member banks and aggregate deposits in twelve mutual savings banks in Baltimore totaled $439,768,151 at the end of April 1932, an increase over time and savings deposits totaling $434,960,562 at the end of March this year, but materially less than $469,135,308 in deposits at the end of April last year. Commercial Failures Commercial failures in the Fifth Federal reserve 3 district in April 1932 numbered 143, compared with 184 in March this year and 156 in April last year. Last month’s insolvencies, in spite of being fewer in number than those in the preceding month this year and in the corresponding month a year ago, were relatively high in number, having been exceeded in April only three times in the past fourteen years. The liabilities involved in the April 1932 failures totaled $8,036,214, compared with liabili ties of $6,792,000 in March 1932 and only $3,873,402 in April 1931. Last month’s liabilities not only showed the highest total for any April on record, but in addition reached a higher figure than in any other month in the past fourteen years except De cember 1922 and March 1924. In the beginning of the present depression, small and weak firms naturally fell by the wayside first, but in recent months trouble has spread and larger firms have found their resources insufficient to meet their obligations. There has therefore been an increase in the average amount of liabilities involved per failure. Employment In the spring there is nearly always a seasonal increase in employment on outside work, and there has recently been some rise in the number of peo ple able to obtain work, but the spring increase is less marked this year than in most seasons because of the small amount of new construction under taken. Most of the recent demand for additional workers has been for painters, repair men, and odd job workers for cleaning up, gardening, etc. Build ing permits issued and contracts actually awarded show a very small volume of new work either con templated or under way. The demand for extra workers on farms is also smaller than in most years, farmers being unable to hire much help, and prices for agricultural products discouraging all expenditures in crop planting except those which are absolutely necessary. Normal employment in textile and tobacco factories held up longer than in most other industries in the Fifth district, but in the past two or three months these industries re ported reduced production. On the whole, there are no signs at present which appear to indicate any early change of a material nature in employ ment conditions. Coal Production Production of bituminous coal in the United States during the month of April 1932 amounted to only 20,300,000 net tons, compared with 32,250,000 net tons mined in March 1932 and 28,478,000 tons in April 1931. P art of the decline in April this year in comparison with both March 1932 and April 1931 was due to suspension of operations since April 1 in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Total pro duction of soft coal during the present calendar year to May 7 (approximately 109 working days) amounts to 112, 826,000 net tons, a materially smaller amount than in any other recent year. 4 MONTHLY REVIEW The April 23 report of the Bureau of Mines, De partment of Commerce, showed production figures by states for March. W est Virginia with an out put of 7,799,000 net tons was in first place, Penn sylvania with 7,081,000 tons ranking second and Illinois ranking third with 6,175,000 tons. The three coal producing states of the Fifth district, W est Virginia, Virginia and Maryland, dug 27.1 per cent of all soft coal mined in the United States in March, compared with 27.4 per cent reported by the district in March a year ago. The smaller percentage this year was due to increased produc tion in March in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio prepara tory to the shut-down in those states which began on April 1. Shipments of coal through Hampton Roads in March totaled approximately 1,496,000 tons, and total shipments from January 1 through March 31 totaled 4,672,000 tons. Retail coal prices have been reduced to summer levels throughout the Fifth district and in most places are about 50c to $1.00 per ton lower than the prices quoted in the summer of 1931. Freight and handling costs account for most of the retail price of coal, and retail dealers are showing a dis position this year to shave their handling charges more than in most seasons. Textiles The textile industry operated at a lower rate in April than in other recent months, but Fifth dis trict mills compared favorably with mills in other sections. According to a report by the Bureau of the Census issued on May 20, average hours of operation per spindle in place in April was 163 for the United States as a whole, 215 for mills in cotton growing states, and 215 for mills in the Fifth district. South Carolina mills averaged 245 hours of operation per spindle in place, Virginia averaged 208 hours, and North Carolina averaged 188 hours. South Carolina tied for second place with Alabama, only 1 hour behind Tennessee’s aver age of 246 for the month. Fifth district mills con sumed 178,266 bales of cotton in April this year, of which North Carolina mills used 89,547 bales, South Carolina mills 78,125 bales, and Virginia mills 10,594 bales. In March 1932, Fifth district mills con sumed 233,171 bales and in April 1931 used 220,895 bales. Consumption of cotton in the Fifth district was 48.54 per cent of National consumption in April 1932, a higher figure than either 47.70 per cent in March this year or 43.42 per cent in both April 1931 and April 1930. Cotton Statistics Spot cotton prices on ten leading Southern markets averaged 5.34 cents per pound on May 13, the latest date for which figures are available. W ith the exception of two weeks last October, this was the lowest price since before the World War. On May 15 last year the average price was 8.80 cents per pound, a difference of approximately $17 per bale. Consumption of cotton in the United States in April 1932 totaled 367,280 bales, compared with 488,655 bales used in March this year and 508,744 bales in April 1931. Total consumption for the nine months of the present cotton season—August 1 to April 30—amounted to 3,937,225 bales, compared with 3,892,826 bales consumed in the corresponding period of the 1930-1931 season. Manufacturing establishments held 1,532,967 bales on April 30, compared with 1,566,205 bales held on March 31 and 1,370,680 bales on April 30, 1931. Public ware houses and compresses held 8,163,937 bales in stor age at the end of April this year, compared with 8,766,979 bales so held a month earlier and 6,033,032 bales on April 30 last year. April exports totaled 544,563 bales, compared with 391,871 bales sent abroad in April 1931. Exports during the nine months of this cotton year totaled 7,396,996 bales, compared with 5,909,669 bales shipped over seas during the corresponding nine months ended April 30, 1931. Spindles active at some time during April numbered 23,409,246, compared with 24,818,008 in March this year and 26,668,536 in April 1931. Cotton consumption in cotton growing states totaled 311,773 bales in April, compared with 398,021 bales used in March and 390,062 bales in April 1931. Last month’s consumption of cotton in the cotton growing states amounted to 84.89 per cent of National consumption, a higher percentage than either 81.45 per cent in March this year or 76.68 per cent in April 1931. Of the 311,773 bales of cot ton consumed in the cotton growing states in April, the Fifth district mills used 178,266 bales, or 57.18 per cent, compared with 56.63 per cent of South ern consumption attained in the district in April last year. Cotton production figures on the 1931 crop, as in dicated by the final ginning figures for the year, were released by the Bureau of the Census on May 17, 1932. The three cotton growing states in the Fifth Federal reserve district grew a total of 1,803,447 equivalent 500-pound bales in 1931, com pared with 1,817,578 bales in 1930 and 1,624,790 bales in 1929. South Carolina picked 1,004,730 bales last year, compared with 1,000,892 bales in 1930; North Carolina picked 756,294 bales com pared with 774,734 bales in 1930; and Virginia picked 42,423 bales compared with 41,952 bales in the earlier year. The United States ginned 17,095,594 equivalent 500-pound bales from the 1931 crop, compared with only 13,931,597 bales in 1930 and 14,824,861 bales in 1929. Government crop reports issued in the spring do not give data on cotton, but unofficial reports indicate that planting is fairly well advanced with the crop up to moderately good stands in Texas and the Gulf states. In sections of the cotton belt an absence of sufficient rain has held back germina tion of cotton seed and growth of plants, South Carolina in the Fifth district having experienced very dry weather during recent weeks. Fertilizer sales through April ran about 40 per cent behind MONTHLY REVIEW sales in the first four months of 1931, a condition which may influence the yield of the cotton crop quite materially this year. On the whole, the past winter was mild and there is danger of an extra heavy and early infestation of weevils. Tobacco Marketing Virginia auction warehouses closed in March or early April, and the Commissioner of Agriculture has issued a final report on this season's sales. Total producers' sales of tobacco for the 1931-1932 season amounted to 107,467,105 pounds valued at $7,123,168, an average price of $6.63 per hundred pounds, compared with 131,966,925 pounds valued at $11,359,000, or an average of $8.61 per hundred, sold during the 1930-1931 season. Sales were the smallest since 1921, when approximately 96,500,000 pounds were sold. The average price was the lowest for any year during the period for which prices have been compiled, 1920 to the present time. Flue-cured sales amounted to 69,652,779 pounds, at an average price of $7.03 per hundred, compared with 96,315,754 pounds sold the previous season at an average of $7.94. Approximately 18,000,000 pounds of North Carolina tobacco were sold in Virginia in excess of Virginia tobacco sold in that State. Therefore, the Virginia flue-cured crop amounted to nearly 62,000,000 pounds, which is the smallest production of this type since 1921. Danville led all markets in sales with 35,025,424 pounds, South Boston ranking second with 14,326,170 pounds. Total producers' sales of firecured tobacco amounted to 26,900,611 pounds, at an average price of $4.94 per hundred, which com pares with the previous season's sales of 23,324,643 pounds, at an average price of $8.26 per hundred. The fire-cured sales during the past season were the largest since the season of 1926-1927, when 43,761,225 pounds were sold. Lynchburg with sales of 8,110,840 pounds led all fire-cured markets and Farmville wsas second with 7,263,250 pounds. Burley sales for the season amounted to 7,952,657 pounds, at an average price of $9.11 per hundred. During the previous season 8,949,672 pounds were sold, at an average price of $17.05. Practically all of the burley tobacco was sold at Abingdon. Sales of sun-cured tobacco at Richmond amounted to 2,961,058 pounds, at an average price of $5.76 per hundred. The previous season's sales were 3,376,856 pounds at an average of $7.73. Sun-cured sales during the past season were the smallest on record. The quality of the 1931 crop was much poorer than usual, as a result of damage from heavy rains in August and from insects. Consider able quantities of low grade tobacco, variously estimated at from 5 to 10 per cent of the total production, were not brought to m arket because of the low prices offered for such grades. W are housemen estimated that the season's sales graded 14 per cent good, 34 per cent medium, and 52 per cent common. 5 Tobacco Manufacturing On May 18, the Commissioner of Internal Reve nue issued a report on taxes collected in April and the ten monthse ended April 30 on manu factured tobacco products. April production of cigarettes in the United States numbered 7,562,290,327* compared with 9,470,621,253 cigarettes manufactured in April 1931. Smoking and chewing tobacco declined from 27,381,757 pounds in April last year to 24,813,725 pounds in April this year. Cigars manufactured dropped from 459,981,900 in April 1931 to 349,953,161 in April 1932. Snuff pro duction fell from 3,399,241 pounds to 2,947,831 pounds. During the ten months ended April 30, 1932, taxes on cigarettes totaled $259,821,914, com pared with $293,084,252 collected in the correspond ing period of the preceding year. Taxes on smok ing and chewing tobacco increased during the same period from $48,451,601 to $48,558,268, although production of smoking and chewing tobacco has recently fallen below production in the earlier period. Cigarette manufacture has dropped re cently approximately 20 per cent below the pro duction a year ago, and other manufactured to bacco, exclusive of cigars, is off between 9 and 10 per cent. Cigar production is now at a rate ap proximately 24 per cent below the production at this time last year. Agricultural Notes It is too early in the season to gather data on agricultural prospects for 1932, but present indica tions point to about average yields for most crops. The weather was unseasonally cold in March and April, and South Carolina has had insufficient rain to meet the needs of seed germination and plant growth. On the other hand, the cold checked pre mature development of fruit and some insect dam age to grain. Except in South Carolina there ap pears to be plenty of moisture in the ground, and farm work is well advanced for the season. Con siderably less commercial fertilizer is being used this year than in either of the two preceding year, and therefore crops will be more than usually de pendent upon favorable w eather during the grow ing season. Construction Building permits issued during April in thirty-two Fifth district cities compared very unfavorably with the volume of permits issued in April last year. Permits for all types of construction num bered 2,766, compared with 4,660 permits issued in April last year. Estimated valuation figures for permits issued last month totaled $3,512,200, com pared with $9,803,685 in April 1931, a decline of 64.2 per cent in the 1932 month. However, the average decrease in valuation was not as great as the total figures indicate, since the 1931 figure in cluded a large amount of work in Baltimore for which permits were secured to escape the restric- 6 MONTHLY REVIEW Building Permits Issued in April 1932 and 1931 CITIES Permits Issued 1931 1932 Total Valuation 1932 1931 Baltimore, Md........... 1,223 Cumberland, Md........ 12 Frederick, Md............ 10 Hagerstown, Md. — 21 Salisbury, Md............ 27 Danville, Va.............. 13 Lynchburg, Va........... 43 Norfolk, Va.............. 116 Petersburg, Va........... 5 Portsmouth, Va....... 30 Richmond, Va............ 95 Roanoke, Va.............. 40 Bluefield, W. Va 9 Charleston, W. Va 121 Clarksburg, W. Va__ 20 Huntington, W. Va..... 33 Asheville, N. C.____ 33 Charlotte, N. C. 43 Durham, N. C.____ 14 Greensboro, N. C, 31 High Point, N. C. 7 Raleigh, N. C_____ 16 Rocky Mount, N. C... 5 Salisbury, N. C-----7 Wilmington, N. C..... 21 Winston-Salem, N. C. 59 Charleston, S. C___ 49 Columbia, S. C____ 43 Greenville, S. C____ 31 11 Rock Hill, S. C......... 29 Spartanburg, S. *C ---Washington, D. C---- 549 2,900 16 11 20 28 13 40 135 10 49 132 43 17 35 25 15 35 62 16 56 23 14 4 0 14 155 38 43 29 29 34 619 $1,484,280 $5,869,440 8,580 7,605 807 9,485 16,620 10,785 19,075 24,875 8,005 8,430 56,278 37,160 118,850 139,905 4,725 4,825 33,465 15,597 307,882 110,190 276,474 48,223 17,075 9,645 174,375 186,572 13,365 6,968 17,200 23,950 30,586 10,680 177,721 27,317 37,490 31,350 55,535 11,237 47,225 13,050 25,475 21,999 6,850 9,600 0 5,430 15,400 9,450 72,452 39,125 32,582 17,840 54,090 55,815 42,410 12,600 11,915 49,530 22,185 6,410 1,085,145 2,206,680 Totals --------------- 2,766 4,660 $3,512,200 $9,803,685 tions of a zoning ordinance which went into effect in that city on May 1, 1931. Ten of the thirty-two cities actually reported higher figures for April 1932 than for April 1931. Norfolk, Huntington and Char leston, W. Va., were the larger cities which showed higher figures last month, and Huntington's increase was due to low figures in 1931. Contracts awarded for construction work in the Fifth reserve district in April this year totaled $12,896,967, including both urban and rural construction, compared with $21,936,600 in contracts awarded in April 1931 and $40,971,884 in April 1930, according to figures collected by the F. W. Dodge Corporation. Of the April 1932 contracts, $3,861,782 was for resi dential structures, compared with $7,434,610 for resi dential work in April last year. Retail Trade, 33 Department Stores Retail trade in the Fifth reserve district in April, as reflected in department store sales, averaged 20.9 per cent less than sales in April 1931, part of the de crease probably being due to the earlier date of Easter this year. Total sales in the first four months of 1932 lacked 17.6 per cent of equaling sales in the cor responding months last year. Stocks of merchandise changed very little in the reporting stores during April, but at the end of the month averaged 13.1 per cent less in selling value than stocks in the same stores on April 30, 1931. The stores turned their stocks .296 times in April, Richmond Baltimore Washington Other Cities District April 1932 sales, compared with sales in April 1931: —23.8 —21.3 —16.8 —32.2 —20.9 Total sales since Jan. 1, 1932, comp, with sales in Jan.-Ap. 1931: —17.9 —19.0 —14.3 —24.6 —17.6 April 30, 1932 stocks, compared with stocks on April 30, 1931: —142 —15.1 — 9.5 —16.7 —13.1 April 30, 1932 stocks, compared with stocks on March 31, 1932: + 3.6 — .5 — 2.0 + 32 — 2 Number of times stock was turned in April 1932: .283 .308 .311 217 296 Number of times stock was turned since January 1, 1932: 1.151 1.157 1.185 .816 1.127 Percentage of April 1, 1932, receivables collected in April: 30.2 240_______305_______ 26J0_______27.1 and between January 1 and April 30, this year, stocks were turned an average of 1.127 times, a lower fig ure than 1.207 times stocks were turned in the first four months of 1931. Collections were slower in April 1932 than in April 1931, the reporting stores collecting 27.1 per cent of outstanding receivables last month in comparison with 28.8 per cent collected in April last year. All of the cities for which individual figures are available showed lower percentages for the current month. W holesale Trade, 62 Firms 21 9 Groceries Dry Goods 6 Shoes 14 Hardware 12 Drugs April 1932 sales, compared with sales in April 1931: —15.1 —30.8 —ro.7 —17.4 —12.6 April 1932 sales, compared with sales in March 1932: — 3.3 — 6.6 —19.3 + 5.9 — 8.0 Jan.-April 1932 sales, compared with sales in Jan.-April 1931: —14.7 —25.3 —>10.3 —16.6 —16.1 April 30, 1932 stocks, compared with April 30, 1931 stocks: —11.5(7*) —12.5(4*) —14.4(5*) —10.7(7*) April 30, 1932 stocks, compared with March 31, 1932 stocks: + .5(7*) - .7(4*) -4 .3 (5 * ) + .6(7*) Percentage of April 1, 1932 receivables collected in April: 57.8(12*) 37.6(6*) 35.0(6*) 29.1(11*) 50.6(8*) * Number of reporting firms. The accompanying table shows in percentage form how sales in five wholesale lines in April 1932 and in the first four months of this year compared with sales in April 1931 and in the first four months of last year. It also shows changes in stocks on hand, and finally gives the percentages of collections during April to total accounts receivable as of April 1, 1932. (Compiled May 21, 1932) MONTHLY REVIEW 7 BUSINESS CONDITIONS IN THE UNITED STATES (Compiled by the Federal Reserve Board) Industrial activity and factory employment declined substantially from March to April, although usually little change occurs tet this season. Purchases of Government securities by the Federal reserve banks have continued during April and the first three weeks of May and there has been a considerable growth in the reserves of member banks. Production and Employment Volume of industrial production, as measured by the Board’s seasonally adjusted index, decreased from 67 per cent of the 1923-1925 average in March to 64 per cent in April. Reductions in activity were reported for many leading industries, with sharp de clines at cotton and woolen mills and at bituminous coal mines; in the automobile industry output in creased from the low level of March by more than the usual seasonal percentage, and in the steel indus try, where activity had declined from early February to the middle of April, production increased some what between the middle of April and the third week of May. The number of wage earners employed at manu facturing establishments declined further between the middle of March and the middle of April and there was a substantial reduction in factory payrolls. larg e decreases in employment were reported for the iron and steel, machinery, and textile industries, while the volume of employment in the food and leather indus tries showed the usual seasonal changes. Daily average value of building contracts awarded during April and the first half of May, as reported by the F. W. Dodge Corporation, showed a seasonal in crease over the first quarter. A substantial increase was reported for public works and public utilities, while residential building continued at the low level of the first quarter, showing none of the usual seasonal expansion. Distribution Freight-car loadings of merchandise showed little change in volume from March to April, continuing at the level prevailing since January, although increases are usual during this period. Sales by department stores increased considerably in April. W holesale Prices Wholesale prices of commodities declined from 66 per cent of the 1926 average in March to 65.5 per cent in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and in the first three weeks of May further decreases in the prices of many leading commodities were re ported. Downward movements in textiles, nonferrous metals, and imported raw materials, as well as in most domestic agricultural products except wheat, were off set in part by increases in the prices of coffee, petrol eum, and petroleum products. Bank Credit Further purchases of U. S. Government securities by the Federal reserve banks were made during April and the first three weeks in May, and on May 18 total holdings were $1,466,000,000. The funds placed in the market through these purchases between April 6 and May 18 were used to the extent of $170,000,000 in a further reduction of member bank indebtedness to the reserve banks; and to the extent of $122,000,000 in meeting a demand for gold from abroad; at the same time member banks accumulated reserve balances considerably in excess of legal requirements. During May the demand for currency, which had declined in April, increased somewhat, contrary to usual seasonal movement. Loans and investments of reporting member banks in leading cities, which had declined continuously until the middle of April, showed little net change between April 13 and May 18. The banks’ investments in creased by nearly $300,000,000, chiefly in New York City; while loans declined by about an equal amount. There was also a growth in net demand deposits, which reflected in part an increase in bankers’ balances de posited in New York City banks. Money rates in the open market continued easy. Rates on commercial paper were reduced about onehalf per cent to a range of 2 ^ -3 per cent for prime names, and the offering rate on 90-day bankers’ ac ceptances, which had advanced to 1% per cent in the first week of May, declined on May 11 to the pre viously prevailing rate of % of one per cent.