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FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF ST. LOUIS MONTHLY REVIEW OF BUSINESS CONDITIONS IN EIGHTH DISTRICT Released for Publication On and After the Afternoon of May 29, 1926 WILLIAM McC. MARTIN Chairman of the Board and Federal Reserve Agent H IL E business as a whole in this district during the past thirty days was active, and production and distribution of mer chandise continued in large volume, there were increasing signs of uneveness and some slowing down as compared with earlier months this year. In a number of the lines investigated, sales showed decreases as contrasted with the same period a year ago, though almost universally results were better than the average during the past several years. Buying in all classifications continues on an ex tremely conservative scale, and is confined princi pally to goods for immediate use or consumption during the next thirty to sixty days. In a majority of tx.c lines showing sales below those of the cor responding period in 1925, the loss occurred mainly in future business. W A s was the case during the two preceding months, weather conditions were inauspicious for the movement of seasonal merchandise. This was true especially of goods for common consumption, such as clothing, groceries, dry goods, boots and shoes and certain items in the drug and chemi cal category. Sales of farm implements, seeds, fer tilizers, dairy and poultry supplies and other mer chandise consumed in the rural sections were dis appointing, though since the arrival of warmer weather marked improvement has developed in buying in the country. Retail trade in the large cities was below expectations and was reflected in an unusually small volum e of reordering of spring merchandise from the wholesalers. Curtailment of industrial activity was in evi dence in some quarters, but this manifestation was by no means general, and in a majority of instances the recent high schedules were maintained. Certain of the iron and steel plants reduced their working forces, and there was a further recession in activi ties at the textile mills, packing plants, flour mills, sh oe factories and several miscellaneous industries. In the lead and zinc fields operating schedules were rather sharply lowered, and the surplus of miners in the bituminous coal areas was larger. A s com pared with the preceding month and a year ago, building permits decreased in April, but the total was still heavy, and work on buildings in course o f construction and highways is keeping craftsmen and com m on labor in the building trades well em ployed. Though the season is from tw o to four weeks late, the outlook for crops is on the whole favora ble. Farmers have taken advantage of the recent good weather to push forward soil preparation and seeding of crops, and a considerable part of the delay in this work has been caught up with. Corn planting has made excellent progress, particularly in the South, and rains since the middle of April have served to greatly improve soil conditions. W hile below those of a year ago, prices of farm products are in the main satisfactory. Live stock prices advanced, and hogs and sheep and lambs reached the highest levels in several months. Fav orable prospects for wheat, as indicated in the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s report of condition as of May 1, resulted in a lowering of wheat prices, but caused a firmer market for feed grains. The demand for spot cotton continued quiet, and prices were a shade lower. In the chief coal producing areas of the district conditions developed no change worthy of note as contrasted with the preceding thirty days. Due to the protracted cool weather retailers booked a fair volume of orders, and were able to pretty thor oughly clear up their reserve stocks. This advant age, however, was more than counterbalanced by the late opening of navigation on the Great Lakes, and the movement has been generally disappoint ing. W ith supplies plentiful, large industrial users are slow to contract for their forward requirements, and mine operators lack the usual backlog of future orders. Many important consumers in the middle W est who form erly drew their supplies from the Illinois and Indiana fields are turning to the cheaper product of the non-union districts. The railroads have been purchasing in heavier volume for storage purposes, but this tonnage has not been sufficient to absorb current production and “ no bills” are still much in evidence, and the number of suspensions is increasing. Prices were lower in most of the principal producing sections. Produc tion of bituminous coal for the country as a whole during the calendar year 1926 to M ay 15 (approxi mately, 115 working days) was 205,770,000 net tons against 179,003,000 tons for the corresponding period in 1925 and 183,581,000 tons in 1924. Loadings o f revenue freight by railroads of the country during each week in April showed gains over the corresponding weeks last year and in 1924. The steady gains in the movement of merchandise and miscellaneous freight, noted in recent months, were continued. T otal loadings for the entire country for the first eighteen weeks of this year, or to M ay 1, totaled 16,777,076 cars, which com pares with 16,493,312 cars for the corresponding period last year and 15,999,791 cars in 1924. The St. Louis Terminal Railway Association, which handles interchanges for 28 connecting lines, inter changed 219,246 loads in April, against 230,909 loads in March and 198,758 loads in April, 1925. During the first nine days of M ay the interchange amount ed to 65,113 loads, against 66,899 loads during the corresponding period in April and 61,163 loads dur ing the first nine days of M ay last year. Passen ger traffic of the reporting roads increased ZT2 per / cent during April as compared with the same month in 1925. Estimated tonnage of the Federal Barge Line between St. Louis and New Orleans for April was 73,400 tons, which compares with 74,688 tons (revised figures) in March and 98,417 tons in April, 1925. Reports relative to collections during the past thirty days indicate a slight improvement over the similar period immediately preceding, but consider able irregularity still exists, both in point of locality and the several lines investigated. W holesalers in the large centers report M ay settlements fully up to expectations, and slightly better than during the same month last year. Liquidation generally through the South has been on a large scale, except in certain sections where peculair local conditions have held back payments. There are still numerous complaints of backwardness in the coal areas, with an increasing number of requests for extensions. In the grain sections som e delays have been occa sioned by the w et weather, and preoccupation of farmers with their spring work. Retailers in the large cities report mainly satisfactory results in April and early May, both in their regular accounts and installment payments. Questionnaires ad dressed to 454 representative interests in the various lines throughout the district showed the following results: Excellent April, 1926 March, 1926 April, 1925 ......... 2.3% 2.4 4.6 Good Fair 30.3% i 56.2% 31.8 52.4 36.0 53.0 Poor 11.2% 13.4 6.4 Commercial failures in the Eighth Federal Reserve District during April, according to D un’s numbered 84, involving liabilities of $1,656,577, against 78 defaults in March with liabilities of $2,808,588, and 81 failures for $1,684,044 in April, 1925. The per capita circulation of the United States on May 1, 1926, was $42.11, against $41.73 on April 1, and $41.50 on M ay 1, 1925. M A N U F A C T U R IN G A N D W H O L E S A L E Autom obiles — Distribution both at retail and wholesale during the past thirty days continued at the high rate noted in the past several months. Business in the country was assisted by more sea sonable weather, and in a number of instances deal ers in the small towns were behind on deliveries. A feature of the month’s business, particular!" Pro nounced in the country, was the unusually large number of straight sales, that is sales on which no used cars were taken in as part payment for new vehicles. A s compared with the same period last year an increase of from 10 to 12 per cent on such transactions was reported. Stocks of new cars in dealers’ hands were larger than a month earlier, and about the same as at this time last year. R e flecting the heavier sales o f new cars, dealers’ stocks o f used cars increased, but the movement of second hand vehicles was reported satisfactory, and except in a very few instances, stocks are not excessive. Comment was made upon the continued trend away from cheap models to the mediumpriced automobiles. Sales of new cars during April by 320 dealers scattered through the district were 53.4 per cent larger than for the same month last year and .04 per cent larger than the March total this year. T he accessory and parts business was reported active, with sales in April 10.3 per cent larger than during the same month in 1925, and 22.3 per cent in excess of the March total this year. The tire situation underwent no change worthy of note as compared with the preceding thirty days. There was the usual seasonal increase in retail sales, but dealers are buying conservatively and'T^Pi immediate requirements only. B oots and Shoes — Sales of the 9 reporting in terests during April were 14.7 per cent smaller than during the same month in 1925, and 7.7 per cent below the March total this year. Stocks on May 1 were 9.4 per cent larger than on the same date last year, but 7.7 per cent less than on April 1 this year. Orders received since M ay 1 show marked im prove ment, and are running slightly ahead of the same period in 1925. Prices of finished goods were un changed as compared with the preceding month, but raw materials, particularly hides, advanced. Factory operation fell slightly below the rate in March. Clothing — W eather was again unfavorable for best results in this industry. Sales of spring apparel, both men’s and w om en’s wear, at retail have been disappointing, and during the past three weeks spe cial efforts in the way o f price reductions and heavy advertising campaigns have been made to stimu late buying. Manufacturers of w om en’s and chil dren’s clothing report advance orders for the sum mer trade about equal in volum e to a year ago, but due to uncertainty relative to style and fabric trends they are making up few goods for stock purposes. Bookings of men’s heavy suits and over coats for fall delivery are fairly good, but the de mand centers chiefly in low priced garments. Prices of raw w ool are the lowest since 1921, and piece goods have declined about 8 per cent since the beginning of the year. Sales of the nine reporting interests during April were 0.5 per cent larger than during the same month in 1925, and showed the usual seasonal gain over March this year. The late season has been unfavorable for millinery and men’s hat trade. Drugs and Chemicals — Business in this classi fication was reported good, with sales continuing to run ahead of those last year. A s compared with the preceding month, there was a fair increase in advance business, particularly marked on insecti cides, fertilizer and seasonal drugs. Jobbers in the district are offering liberal discounts on selected lists of com m odities to meet outside competition in local territory, which has tended to curtail profits to some extent. Sales of soda fountain equipment and supplies were below those of a year ago. Prices averaged about steady with the preceding month, advances offsetting declines. Sales of the 9 report ing interests during April were 3.5 per cent larger than for the same month in 1925, and 9.1 per cent below the March total this year. D ry Goods — April sales of the 9 reporting interests were 13.3 per cent under those of the same month in 1925, and 27.2 per cent below the March total this year. Stocks on M ay 1 were 7.9 per cent larger than a month earlier and 14.7 per cent less than those on M ay 1, 1925. Ordering for prompt delivery is generally reported satisfactory, but advance business shows a large decrease under a year ago. Uncertainty relative to prices and the unusually cool spring are given as the main factors in backward buying. In the immediate past there has been some improvement in ordering for fall delivery, particularly of blankets and other heavy woolen goods. Electrical Supplies — In spite of the cold spring advance sales of fans and other seasonal goods have been satisfactory. Unfavorable weather for out door work held down the movement of building materials and pole and line hardware. Purchasing of all sorts of materials by the coal industry con tinues at a low ebb, and there was the usual sea sonal decline in radio sales. The demand for house hold appliances, lighting fixtures and small motors was reported active. April sales of the 10 reporting interests were 14.0 per cent larger than for the same month in 1925, and 4.0 per cent in excess of the March total this year. F lo u r — Production at the twelve leading mills of the district during April was 277,339 barrels, which compares with 315,650 barrels in March and 237,757 barrels in April, 1925. Stocks of flour in St. Louis on May 1 were 14.4 per cent less than on April 1, and .08 per cent under those on May 1, 1925. There was no change from the quiet trade conditions obtaining during the preceding several months. Purchasing by both dealers and consum ers is on a hand-to-mouth basis, with car lot sales almost entirely absent. Prices declined slightly in sympathy with the downturn in cash wheat, but buyers were not disposed to follow the decline. In the immediate past a better tone has developed in the domestic trade, particularly in the South, and bids from Europe for clears and low grade flours were closer to actual values than in a long while. Mill operation was at 55 to 60 per cent of capacity. Furniture — April sales of the 19 reporting in terests were 15.9 per cent under those of the same month in 1925, and 20.7 per cent below the March total this year. Stocks on M ay 1 were 48.7 per cent larger than at the same time last year, and 24.4 per cent in excess of the April 1 total this year. U n favorable weather and the policy of dealers to pur chase only for immediate requirements are given as the chief reasons for the decreases. Prices were unchanged as compared with the preceding month, but the trend is lower. Groceries — The demand for staples was re ported fairly active, but the movement of canned goods and the general line of miscellaneous grocer ies was disappointing. Advance orders booked for canned goods were smaller than at the same time last year, and the trend of prices was downward. Sales of the 11 reporting interests during April were 4.3 per cent larger than in the same month in 1925, and 10.1 per cent below the March total this year. Stocks on May 1 were 0.9 per cent larger than thirty days earlier and 11.0 per cent below the M ay 1, 1925, total. Hardware — T he backward spring was given as the principal cause for a decrease^ in April sales of the 10 reporting interests of 4.6 per cent as con trasted with the same month last year, and of 11.7 per cent as compared with the March total this year. T h e m ajor part of the decrease in either com parison was recorded during the first half of April, orders since that date having favorably responded to a change for the better in weather conditions. The demand for builders’ hardware is less active than heretofore. Iron and Steel Products — A ctivity in both finished and raw materials sustained a slight slow ing down during the past thirty days as compared with the similar period immediately preceding. Shipments by mills, foundries and machine shops were fairly w ell sustained, but specifications, parti cularly on seasonal goods for consumption in the rural districts, were below expectations, and new business is being sparingly and conservatively placed. W hile prices were for the m ost part steady with levels obtaining the month before, the trend was lower, and there was a disposition to shade current quotations to effect sales. Purchasing by the railroads continues backward, and is confined chiefly to materials necessary for immediate use. The building and automotive industries were rela tively the m ost active outlets for ferrous materials. Fabricators o f structural steel reported sufficient orders to keep their plants w orking at about the same rate as a month earlier, and the movemen o f standard structural shapes, reinforcing concrete bars and plates was in large volume. There was a rather sharp recession in the demand for sheets o r all descriptions, and the leading producer in the district has curtailed its operations to 70 per cent of capacity, which compares with 85 per cent thirty days ago. Stove manufacturers complain of lack of new orders, and a number of the leading plants are active only tw o to three days per week. Engine builders and implement manufacturers are for the most part busy, and are better supplied with un filled orders than other sections o f the industry. Since the middle of April there has been some im provement in the demand for tank plates and other oil country goods, but purchasing in the coal-fields continues at a low ebb. Producers and distribu tors of tin plate report a smaller volume of orders than last year, due to hesitancy on the part of the canning industry in covering future requirements. Production of pig iron for the country as a whole in April showed a slight decrease under March, but was the heaviest for any April since 1923. After establishing a new record production in March, steel ingot production in April declined to a level only slightly better than the February rate, but the total output— 4,123,941 tons— was the largest for any April in history. P ig iron prices declined from 50c to $1 per ton, but the reduction failed to stimu late buying, the market continuing dull. Scrap iron and steel recorded a further decline, and new low points on the downward movement were estab lished. Lum ber — W ith m ore favorable weather for building operations, there has been a more active movement from softw ood yards in the larger cities of the district. On the other hand, retailers depend ing on farm trade reported a quiet business, due to the fact that farmers are preoccupied with prepara tions for and planting of crops. W holesale prices continued to sag on virtually all lumber stock, though there was a notable absence o f drastic de clines. Current consumption holds up well, and there is a heavy aggregate volume of small-order, quick delivery business. R E T A IL T R A D E Conditions in the retail trade are reflected in the follow ing comparative tables showing activi ties at department stores and shoe and men’s fur nishing stores in leading cities of the district: Stocks on hand Net sales comparisons Apr. 1926 4 months ending Apr. 30, 1926 comp, to comp, to Apr. 30, 1926, to Apr. 1925 same period 1925 Apr. 30, 1925 — 13.6% Evansville .......— 7.9% — 8.9% — 1.7 + 2.2 Little Rock....... — 2.5 — 0.4 + 2.4 Louisville .........+ 3.0 ......+ 4.8 + 10.5 + 0.4 — 6.0 .....— 6.1 — 3.3 + 5.0 + 0.7 ......+ 3.7 Springfield, Mo.— 1.2 + 5.6 — 6.4 8th District....... + 2.9 + 4.6 + 0.6 Net sales comparisons April 1926 compared to Apr. 1925 Mar. 1926 Men’s Furnishing.......— 5.7% + 1.7% Boots and Shoes.........— 4.3 — 36.9 Stock turnover January 1, to Apr. 30, 1925 1926 65.0 68.5 82.2 82.6 115.5 109.9 77.0 87.7 77.9 78.9 119.2 118.8 43.5 49.4 105.7 107.4 Stocks on hand April 1926 compared to Apr. 1925 Mar. 1926 + 1.2% — 5.7% + 8.1 + 8.9 C O N S U M P T IO N O F E L E C T R IC IT Y Electric power consumed by selected indus trial customers of public utilities companies in the five largest cities of the district during April showed an increase of 5.5 per cent over the corresponding month in 1925, but a decrease of 4.1 per cent under March this year. In the year to year comparison the gain was spread pretty generally over all in dustries. The decrease from March to April was due to smaller loads taken by flour mills, pottery industries and the temporary closing for repairs of an important cement plant, together with reduced requirements of steel fabricators. Detailed figures fo llo w : Mar. April Apr. 1926 No. of custom 1926 1926 comp, to ers *K.W.H. *K.W.H. Mar. 1926 1,266 Evansville .....40 1,186 + 6.7% Little Rock...35 1,271 1,184 — 6.8 Louisville ....65 4,909 5,231 — 6.2 Memphis .....31 1,769 1,630 + 8.5 St. Louis.......92 15,025 15,878 — 5.4 Totals.....263 24,153 25,196 *In thousands (000 omitted). — 4.1 April 1925 *K.W.H. 1,104 1,237 4,995 1,358 14,197 Apr. 1926 comp, to Apr. 1925 + 14.7% — 4.3 — 1.7 +30.3 + 5.8 22,891 + 5.5 The follow ing figures, com piled by the Depart ment of the Interior, show kilowatt production both for lighting and industrial purposes for the country as a w h ole: By water power By fuels 3,854,997,000' March, 1926......................2,246,453,000 February, 1926................ 1,905,705,000 3,692,533,000 March, 1925.................... ..2,039,552,000 3,322,630,000 Totals 6,101,450,000 5,598,238,000 5,362,182,000 A G R IC U L T U R E D ue to the late spring agricultural progress is considerably behind the seasonal schedule. Weather during the past thirty days was unfavorable for grow th and development o f planted crops and the accomplishment of farm work, notably plowing and soil preparation. Beginning with the second week in May, however, there was a marked change for the better in m eteorological conditions, full advan tage o f which was taken by farmers to push forward operations, and while seeding of grains, vegetables, tobacco and other crops is still behind the average for this date, excellent progress was made, and total acreages of the chief crops will compare favor ably with past years. There remains ample time for planting corn, potatoes and other spring crops, but the backward season w ill doubtless result in a curtailed acreage o f oats. In Missouri farm w ork is tw o to three weeks late, while in Illinois plow ing for spring planting was reported only 42 per cent completed on May 8, against the average o f 64 per cent. In Indiana only 38 per cent of spring plow ing and planting had been completed on M ay 1, while last year on the same date 85 per cent was done. In Arkansas 63 per cent o f this work had been accomplished on M ay 1, com paring with the 10-year average of 78 per cent. For the country as a whole on May 1, 68.3 per cent of all plow ing and 56.1 per cent of planting had been completed. W ith the exception o f a relatively small number o f localities, farm labor was adequate to the demand. W inter W heat — W hile the estimated yield of winter wheat for the United States, based on the May 1 condition, was 548,908,000 bushels, against 398.486.000 bushels harvested in 1925, prospective yields in all states of this district, except Missis sippi, are smaller than last year. ^The heaviest losses are in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, and are attributable principally to the extremely unfav orable planting season last fall. Other causes con tributing to the poor outlook were abandonment due to winter killing, unfavorable grow ing weather during the late winter and early spring, and heavy winds and hail storms. The principal damage was in the North, wheat in the South having come through the cold weather in comparatively good shape. For the country as a whole the abandon ment of winter wheat acreage to May 1 was esti mated to be 5.6 per cent, or 2,216,000 acres, of the 39.301.000 acres sown last fall, which is much be low the 10-year average of 13 per cent. C orn — Planting of corn has been delayed by rains and cold weather and considerably less than the usual amount has been sown. In the South rela tively greater progress has been made than in the northern stretches of the district, and in many counties the plant is up to a good stand. In many northern counties soil conditions were not auspi cious for seeding corn during April, but this condi tion has been remedied by good rains during the past three weeks. Stocks of old corn in all posi tions are heavy, and largely in excess of the same period last year. Fruits and Vegetables — Reports relative to fruit vary widely, but on the whole prospects are good. Frosts and freezes in April did much damage to the peach crop in some sections, but the injury was spotted and scattered, and in the southern and extreme northern sections of the district the out look is good. Apples were not seriously damaged, but the bloom in certain commercial sections was light. In Arkansas the condition of apples on May 1 was 75 per cent of a full crop, indicating a com mercial production of 3,700 car loads. In Indiana and Illinois and parts of Missouri the apple crop will be large. Strawberries were two to three weeks late, but indications for the chief producing states of the district were for heavier yields than last year. Cherries, plums and other tree fruits are expected to yield heavily. Planting of vegetables is late, particularly potatoes, but the condition is high and with favorable weather from this on, results should be satisfactory. Gardens were planted later this year in more than a decade, but have responded well to the improved weather since May 1, and are in generally good condition. Live Stock — M ost recent reports indicate im proved conditions am ong live stock as compared with the preceding month. T he early lamb situa tion, while quite varied in different areas, is on the whole satisfactory, and prices were the highest since early in January. Due to the cold spring, there was unusually high mortality among young pigs. The general trend am ong raisers is to increase their herds o f cattle and swine, both because of the abundance of cheap feeds, and the high market prices. The average condition of pasture in the United States on M ay 1 was 74.6 per cent of nor mal, compared with 86.5 per cent on the same date in 1925, and 84.0 per cent, the average condition for the past ten years on M ay 1. Receipts and shipments at St. Louis, reported by the National Stock Yards, were as follow s: Receipts Shipments Apr. Mar. Apr. Apr. Mar. Apr. 1926 1926 1925 1926 1926 1925 55,627 55,169 50,495 Cattle and Calves..... 86,439 94,740 84,864 Hogs ........................311,011301,580 262,267227,80 210,284 191,949 0 Horses and Mules.... 1,471 5,096 1,123 1,969 5,807 2,014 Sheep ...................... 15,859 30,250 13,969 7,741 14,433 8,930 Cotton — W eather was more favorable for planting cotton and considerable progress was made in putting in the crop. There is still considerable seeding to be accomplished in the northern section of the district. Unusually low temperatures were against germination, and for the most part stands are disappointing. There were some complaints of seed rotting in the ground, necessitating replanting. Recent precipitation has furnished abundant mois ture generally through the district, and soil condi tions are fine. Unofficial reports indicate acreages about on a parity with last year. The demand for cotton continued quiet and prices fluctuated over a very narrow range. T he middling grade in the St. Louis market closed at 1 7 ^ c per pound on May 15, which was % c below the price on April 15, and compared with 2 2 ^ c on M ay 15, 1925. Stocks con tinue heavy, the total in Arkansas warehouses on May 14 being 386,033 bales, against 407,289 bales a month earlier, and 41,636 bales on May 7, 1925. Rice — Preparation of the soil for the 1926 crop has been virtually completed, and approximate ly 75 per cent of the acreage seeded. Soil conditions are ideal, there being abundant soil and sub-soil moisture. Mills report the most active demand for polished rice experienced since the middle of Janu ary. Prices were unchanged. T obacco — Offerings of old crop tobacco have decreased sharply as the marketing season draws to a close, and quality is mainly indifferent. The medium to fine leaf offered is bringing as high prices as at any time during the season, but the ordinary grades are selling considerably below the levels at this time last year. W eather in the imme diate past has been favorable for farm work, and good headway has been made with preparations for the new crop. Plants are reported plentiful, but small and backward. Due to the cold weather, very little actual planting has been done. Com m odity Prices — Range of prices in the St. Louis market between April 15, 1926, and May 15, 1926, with closing quotations on the latter date and on May 15, 1925: Wheat July ............... September ..... No. 2 red winter No. 2 hard..... Corn Close High Low May 15, 1926 May 15, 1925 bu.$1.68^2 $1, 545^ $1.58 $1.6754 1 4 s I.331/2 .4 / 1.35 1.48-H i 1.37M i.,3on L32 1.42 ‘ 1.79 1.65 $1.65 @ 1.68 1.90 1.74 1.60 1.65 1.68 •74^2 .67/2 3 July ............... .78% .7 September .... .80 % . 7 / 64 No. 2 ............... 9 .71 .7334 .6 No. 2 white.... .75^ .7 / 22 Oats No. 2 white__ .43H A2'/ .43 Flour Soft patent.... ...perbbl. 9.25 8.25 .8.25 Spring patent, 7.90 8.00 8.75 Middling cotton....per lb. .18 -1 M 7 Hogs on hoof,.,. ..per cwt.10.50 14.35 12.40 .70 .73 V s @ @ 1.10 77H .71/2 1.14*6 1.12J4 1.1354 1.15*4 .43^2 .49 • .75 @ @ 8.75 $8.75 @ 9.50 8.30 8.20 @ 8.40 .17U .22 M @ 14.35 10.25 @ 11.90 B U IL D IN G Some slowing down in building operations throughout the district was indicated by building permits issued in April. W ork on buildings in course of construction, however, proceeded with virtually no interruption and skilled artisans in the building trades are fully employed in all the large cities. Prices of building materials showed no ap preciable change as compared with the preceding thirty days. In point of dollar value, building per mits issued during April in the five largest cities of the district decreased 18.8 per cent as compared with the month before and the total was 45.5 per cent smaller than in April, 1925. A ccording to sta tistics compiled by F. W . D odge Corporation, building contracts awarded in the Eighth Federal Reserve District in April totaled $30,369,870, against $33,527,414 in March and $37,684,000 in April, 1925. Production of portland cement for the country as a whole in April totaled 12,403,000 barrels, against 10,355,000 barrels in March and 13,807,000 barrels in April, 1925. Building figures for April fo llo w : New Construction *Cost Permits 1926 1925 1926 1925 255 $ 671 $ 150 Evansville . 198 122 288 518 Little Roc : 100 599 2,628 4,634 Louisville . 431 1,765 474 Memphis . . 617 1,844 . 862 960 3,196 8,526 Apr. totals 2,208 Mar. totals 2,266 Feb. totals 1,487 2,410 2,352 1,845 $8,548 $15,672 9,625 10,537 5,575 8,589 Repairs, etc. *Cost Permits 1926 1925 1926 1925 $ 63 $ 37 144 154 66 38 114 105 163 136 126 158 81 92 141 46 563 520 615 500 986 905 726 1,068 1,037 680 $ 953 $855 1,049 848 529 1,734 F IN A N C IA L T he demand for credit accom m odation from general commercial and industrial sources sustained a further slight slow ing down during the period under review. T h e volum e of collections with lead ing mercantile interests was large and their cash position is such as to enable them to carry on to a larger extent than usual with their own resources. Generally small inventories of both raw materials and finished goods were mentioned as another fac tor in the smaller demand for funds. Due to the liquid condition of country banks, these institu tions are borrow ing less money from their city cor respondents than at the corresponding period during the past tw o years. T he city banks report scattered liquidation, and the irregular decrease in loans of the reporting member banks, which began at the middle of February, continued during the past thirty days. Deposits also continued their down ward movement, touching a new low point for the year in late April. Since that time, however, there has been a fair recovery, the total on May 12 being close to the level of the first week in April. Some improvement in the condition o f country banks in the tobacco district was noted, due to a distribution by the Burley T ob acco Growers Cooperative Asso ciation of over $10,000,000 to its members during die last week of April. Except in the cotton sec tions, the demand for funds for financing early agricultural operations has been negligible, but the demand for conditioning live stock for market is reported good. O w ing to the lateness of the spring the movement of early fruits and vegetables is backward, and the demand for funds to finance these operations is below the seasonal average of recent years. T he trend o f interest rates in St. Louis was lower as compared with the preceding month and were quoted as follow s: Commercial paper 4 to 4J4 P^r cent, ordinary commercial loans to 5 y per cent, collateral loans 4 y2 to S y per cent and live stock loans 5 to 6 per cent. banks to checking accounts, savings accounts, cer tificates of deposit accounts and trust accounts of individuals, firms, corporations and U. S. Govern ment in the leading cities of the district. Charges to accounts of banks are not included: E. St. Louis and Nat. Stock Yards. 111..$ 45,229 El Dorado, Ark............ 12,755 Evansville, Ind............. 38,681 Fort Smith, Ark........... 13,564 Greenville, Miss............ 4,517 Helena, Ark................ 5,303 Little Rock, Ark......... 76,789 Louisville, Ky.............. 202,313 Memphis, Tenn............. 142,808 Owensboro, Ky............ 5,374 Quincy, 111.................... 13,725 St. Louis, Mo.............. 760,357 Sedalia, Mo................. 4,694 Springfield, Mo............. 16,241 *Apr. 1925 $ 44,411 $ 41,109 9,249 12,250 37,565 36,580 12,876 13,525 3,831 4,739 4,631 5,094 62,492 81,274 187,613 209,256 131,140 158,101 5,750 5,494 13,410 13,468 773,900 758,867 4,729 4,655 15,590 13,629 Totals................... $1,342,350 $1,378,593 $1,286,635 *In thousands (000 omitted). Apr. 1926, comp, to Mar. 1926 Apr. 1925 + + + + — + — — — — + — 1.89? 4.3 6.3 0.3 4.7 4.1 5.5 3.3 9.7 6.5 1.9 1.7 + 0.8 + 4.2 — 2.6 + 10.0<H +37.9 + 2.9 + 5.3 + 17.9 + 14.5 +22.9 + 7.8 + 8.9 — 2.2 + 2.3 + 0.2 — 0.7 + 19.2 + 4.3 Condition of Banks — Loans and discounts of the reporting member banks decreased slightly dur ing the past thirty days, the total on May 19 being $516,451,000, against $525,457,000 on April 21 and $484,903,000 on M ay 20, 1925. Deposits on May 19 totaled $628,741,000, which compares with $627,750,000 on April 21, and $602,024,000 on May 20, 1925. Comparative statement follow s: Loans and discounts (incl. rediscounts) Investments U. S. Gov’ Cash in vault... Deposits N et demand T ime deposit; Bills payable and rediscounts with Federal reserve bank *May 19, *Apr. 21, ♦May 20, 1925 1926 1926 33 33 „,$ 10,372 ,,, 195,918 ... 310,161 $ 11,663 201,102 312,692 $ 10,253 171,762 302,888 $516,451 $525,457 $484,903 ... 77,949 ... 110,065 63,375 106,044 78,845 108,554 $169,419 46,848 7,609 $187,399 44,214 6,971 .. 404,758 402,675 216,916 8,159 389,278 204,737 8,009 ,..$628,741 $627,750 $602,024 ... 4,846 5,987 1,296 All other........................................ 10,530 6,206 *In thousands (000 omitted) Total resources of these 33 banks comprise approximately 54 per cent of the resources of all member banks in the district. Federal Reserve Operations — During April the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis discounted for 212 member banks, against 200 in March and 193 in April, 1925. The discount rate remained un changed at 4 per cent. Changes in the principal assets and liabilities of this institution as compared with the preceding month and a year ago are shown in the follow ing table: Commercial Paper — Offerings of commercial paper, particularly o f choice names, was in limited volume during the past thirty days, and this fact, coupled with lower rates, resulted in a decrease in business, both as compared with the preceding month and a year ago. Brokerage interests report the demand good, with both city and country banks buying freely. Rates ranged from 4 to 4%. per Bills discounted.............. Bills bought................... cent, which compares with 4% to 4 y2 per cent the U. S. Securities........... Foreign loans on gold.. month before, and 3^4 to 4 per cent at the corre sponding period last year. Debits to Individual Accounts — T he following Ratio of reserves to deposit and F. R. Note liabilities.... comparative table gives the total debits charged by *In thousands (000 omitted). (Compiled May 21, 1926) *Mar. 1926 f Apr. 1926 *May 17, 1926 ,$27,293 .. 7,388 27,342 318 *Apr. 17, *May 17, 1925 1926 $20,010 $29,272 11,380 7,321 26,640 25,742 374 483 ..$62,341 38,358 .. 81,662 $62,709 37,368 84,904 $58,513 47,570 83,740 „ 53.7% 52.8% 57.6% B U SIN E SS C O N D IT IO N S IN T H E U N IT E D S T A T E S T here was a slight decline in the activity o f industry and trade in April and a further reduction in the general price level. Com m ercial demand for bank credit continued large and the volum e o f security loans, after a rapid decline since the turn o f the year, remained at a constant level. P R O D U C T IO N — P roduction in basic industries, ac cording to the Federal Reserve Board’s index, decreased one per cent in April, slight increases in production of lumber and pig iron being m ore than offset by declines in Index of 22 basic commodities adjusted for seasonal variations. Latest figure, April=122. output in other industries. Particularly large recessions were shown in the production o f steel ingots and in tex tile mill activity. Autom obile production, not included in the index, continued in large volum e. Factory employment and payrolls declined slightly, particularly the food, tobac co, textile, and b oot and shoe industries. The volume of building contracts awarded during April was smaller than in M arch and practically the same as in April o f last year. Aw ards for the first tw o weeks in May, however, showed increases as com pared with the same weeks in 1925. R e ports by the D epartm ent o f Agriculture indicate that up to the first o f M ay 68 per cent o f spring plow ing and 56 per cent o f sow in g and planting was completed, compared with about 83 per cent and 66 per cent last year. T R A D E — T h e volum e o f wholesale trade in April was seasonally smaller than in M arch for all lines except meats. Com pared with a year ago, sales o f groceries, meats and drugs were larger in April, while sales of dry goods, shoes and hardware w ere smaller. Department they w ere larger than a year ago. W eek ly freight car loadings decreased in the early part o f April, but later increased, and the volum e o f shipments for the month o f April as a w hole and for the first tw o weeks in M ay was larger than in the corresponding periods o f any previous year. P R ICE S — W h olesale com m odities prices, according to the Bureau o f Labor Statistics index, declined slightly from March to April. Increases in the farm products and Latest figure, April=151. foods groups, which had been declining for several months, were m ore than offset by decreases in other groups. T he greatest declines w ere in the prices o f clothing materials. In the first three weeks o f M ay prices o f wheat, cattle, sheep, cotton goods, pig iron, bricks, and rubber declined, while those o f hogs, raw silk and crude petroleum increased. B A N K C R E D IT — Com m ercial demand for bank credit at m em ber banks in leading cities continued in large volume between the middle o f April and the middle ox May. Liquidation o f security loans, which had been rapid since the beginning o f the year, did not continue after the m id dle o f April and the volum e o f these loans remained fairly constant at a level about $450,000,000 below the peak at the end o f 1925. T h ere was som e addition to the banks* investments and the total o f their loans and investments was about $1,000,000,000 larger than at the same period o f last year. W ithdrawals o f funds from New Y ork w ere reflected in an increase betw een the middle o f April and the middle o f M ay in borrow ings by m em ber banks from the Federal Reserve Bank o f N ew Y ork, while borrow ings Monthly averages of daily figures for 12 Federal Reserve Banks. figures are averages of first 19 days in May. stores sales increased less than usual and were somewhat smaller than a year ago. Sales o f mail order houses were slightly smaller than in March, but continued to be larger than in the. corresponding months o f 1925. There was som e decrease in the stocks o f merchandise held by w hole sale firms during the month, and inventories o f department stores show ed less than the usual seasonal increases, though Latest at m ost o f the other R eserve banks declined. O pen market holdings o f the R eserve banks remained fairly constant during the period and there was little change in the total volum e o f Reserve bank credit outstanding. M oney rates late in April reached the low est level for a year, but iii M ay conditions in the m oney market became som ewhat firmer.