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FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF ST. LOUIS MONTHLY REVIEW OF B U SIN ESS CONDITIONS IN FEDERAL RESERVE DISTRICT NO. 8 Released for Publication On and After the Afternoon of May 31, 1924. W I L L I A M M cC. M A R T IN CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD AND FEDERAL RESERVE AGENT D E C L IN IN G tendencies in both the production and distribution of com m odities were indicated in a large m ajority of reports covering business conditions in this district during the past thirty days. The recession, however, was not attributed to any unfavorable change in fundamental conditions, but rather to further emphasis of the policy of ultra con servatism and caution which has obtained in many quarters during recent months. The demand for goods continues active and there has been no impairment in the general purchasing power of the public, but the disposition am ong consumers is to buy in quantities sufficient only to fill immediate needs. An almost uni versal com ment am ong wholesalers and jobbers is that in recent weeks the average size of orders is the small est in years. In such lines as dry goods, boots and shoes, drugs and chemicals and hardware, where here tofore the practice has been to buy in large quantities, piecemeal purchasing is the rule, and more goods are being shipper by express and parcels post than ever before. ^ . . < The backward season is given as another reason for the delayed movement of certain descriptions of merchandise, notably apparel, farm supplies and sporting goods. There was excellent response to the im proved weather in early May, but this was follow ed by a return of unseasonably low temperatures and excessive rainfall, which served to deprive the m ove ment of a considerable part of its spontaniety. Effects of the unfavorable wreather have been felt particularly in the country, w^here sales of seasonal goods have been below expectations and collections disappointing. In the large centers of population retail distribution has been relatively more satisfactory, and both retail ers and wholesalers report an improvement in collec tions as contrasted with the preceding thirty days. The slow ing down in distribution and the marked absence of forward buying were reflected in curtailed operations on the part of manufacturers. In both basic and subsidiary industries outputs in April showed a number of decreases. Production of pig iron and steel for the country as a whole was smaller, and there was a decrease in the output of automobiles, coal, lumber, furniture and textiles. Generally iron and steel mills, iotindries and machine shops in this district worked on reduced schedules. Commitments in the matter of raw material are along the same cautious lines as noted in finished and semi-finished goods. Uncertainty rela tive to the demand for their products and price trends is causing manufacturers to hold off, and even where J rice concessions are offered, little interest is maniM e d in future requirements. farm implements, groceries, furniture, job foundries, millinery, railroad supplies and stoves. Increases were reported in drugs and chemicals, electrical sup plies, bakeries, hardware, confections and packing. The general trend of prices was downward, but changes during the period under review were not of a radical character, and on some commodities minor advances were recorded. Building continued active, permits issued in the five largest cities of the dis trict being the largest on record in point of money involved. Consumption of electricity in the five chief cities during April showed slight gains over the same month in 1923 and March this year. Taken as a whole the employment situation in this district developed little change during the period under review. There was some falling off in the number of active workers in industrial plants, particularly in the iron and steel industry and men’s clothing. In the general total, however, their losses were counterbal anced by seasonal gains in employment on farms and in road building and river work. Throughout the dis trict artisans in the building trades are fully employed, and the number of active workers in that classification was augmented by the settlement of strikes in certain crafts. In the South there are scattered complaints of lack of cotton hands, and a scarcity of help devel oped in sections where strawberries are raised in quan tities. Settlement of the coal strike in the Southwest went far to offset the additional idleness in other coal fields. No wage reductions of consequence were reported. For the United States as a whole em ploy ment in manufacturing industries decreased 2.1 per cent in April, and pay roll totals decreased 2.5 per cent. M arketing of grain, with the exception of corn, decreased slightly in April as compared with the same month a year ago, and the movement of early fruits and vegetables was under normal for this season. Larger receipts ,of corn had a depressing tendency on values of that cereal, and between April 15 and May 15 corn futures declined 2 % to 2 ^ c per bushel. W heat futures, on the other hand, advanced about 3c, the upturn being in part due to the Government’s reduced estimate of the winter wheat crop, based on conditions as of May 1. The demand for good milling wheat was active, but lower grades were dull, and there was practically no export demand. The m ove ment of live stock was on a fairly liberal scale, and prices during the early part of the period held quite strong. Later, however, cattle and lambs declined slightly. Middling cotton at St. Louis ranged between 29% c and 31c, and closed at 3 0 ^ c on M ay 15 as against 31c on April 15. .. O f the several lines investigated, decreases in April sales as contrasted wT ith a year ago were shown reporting manufacturers and wholesalers in the follow ing lin es: B oots and shoes, clothing, dry goods, Except for a slight improvement in undertone, due to the diminished movement of tonnage having served to stabilize the market by eliminating excess accumulations on track and elsewhere, the fuel situa tion has undergone no change. Contracting is more backward than has been the case at this particular season for a number o f years. Despite curtailed pro duction, offerings are on a liberal scale, and keen competition exists for all current business. Railroad buying has fallen off, and the movem ent for domestic use is confined chiefly to small cars for em ergency pur poses. The demand for screenings has been better than for prepared sizes, but due to lack of demand for the latter, producers are short of slack. A further reduction in w orking time at active mines was reported, and a number of additional pits have closed for an indefinite period. Leading steam users, parti cularly the public utilities companies, are holding off on filling future requirements, mainly on the theory that they may obtain better terms later in the year. By-product coke manufacturers report extreme dull ness in the demand for their outputs. Lack of interest on the part of the domestic trade and curtailment of operations at foundries and furnaces are the chief factors affecting their business. The wage dispute which caused a shutdown of mines in the Southwest wras settled on May 3 by renewal of the old scale for three years. Production of soft coal for the country as a whole for the first 106 w orking days of the calendar year, or to M ay 3, totaled 169,161,000 net tons, which compares with 187,097,000 tons for the corresponding period in 1923 and 152,363,000 tons in 1922. Lack of demand remains by far the chief factor limiting pro duction, and was responsible for losses o f more than 50 per cent of full-time capacity in a large m ajority of the producing districts. Freight traffic of the railroads, while still in large volume, continued to show decreases under the cor responding period a year ago. During each week in April there were losses as compared with the same weeks in 1923, but large gains as contrasted with 1922. For the week ending May 10 loadings of reven ue freight totaled 909,187 cars, against 974,741 for the corresponding week in 1923, and 767,094 cars in 1922. The movement of merchandise is holding up relatively well, but heavy losses were recorded on coal and m is cellaneous freight. The Terminal Railway A ssocia tion of St. Louis, which handles the interchange of 28 connecting carriers, interchanged 196,111 loads in April, against 204,656 loads in March and 212,006 loads in April, 1923. Passenger traffic of reporting roads in A pril showed a decrease o f 4 per cent as com pared with the same month last year. Total receipts and shipments of tonnage via river at St. Louis during the first four months of 1924, ac cording to the M erchants’ Exchange, were 64,515, as compared with 47,815 tons during the same period in 1923. Tonnage m oved on the Mississippi River section of the Federal barge line between St. Louis and New Orleans amounted to 82,200 tons during April, against 74,117 tons in March and 60,229 tons in April, 1923. The April traffic was the heaviest for any month since June, 1923. Reports relative to collections continue to reflect rather spotted conditions, both in reference to locality and lines of business. A s a w hole, however, efficiency was somewhat better in A pril than during the preced ing month. A s was the case earlier in the year, heavy roads, floods and unseasonable weather interfered with collections in the rural districts. Retailers in the large cities report satisfactory returns and the same is true of the general run of wholesalers. In the coal mining areas and certain localities affected by specific condi tions, payments are backward. Answers to 408 ques tionnaires addressed to representative interests in various lines throughout the district show the fol low ing results: K xcellent Good Fair P oor 29.4% 56.3% 12.6% April, 1924....... 1.7% March, 1924 0.0 24.8 58.7 16.5 April, 1923....... 3.8 38.1 51.4 6.7 Commercial failures in the Eighth Federal Reserve District during April, according to D un’s, numbered 79, involving liabilities of $1,033,327, against 100 defaults with indebtedness of $1,313,655 in March and 80 failures for $2,168,109 in April, 1923. The per capita circulation of the United States on Mav 1 was $42.33, against $42.85 on April 1 and $42^04 on May 1, 1923. 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 Production of automobiles and trucks for the country as a whole during April fell 2.3 per cent under the March total, and was 2.5 per cent less than in April, 1923. Companies reporting direct or through the Autom obile Chamber of Commerce manufactured 336,968 passenger cars in April, against 348,287 in March. The output of trucks was 34,977 in April, which compares with 33,061 in March. Total number of passenger cars and trucks manufactured during the first 4 months of 1924, however, totals 1,435,434, against 1,265,874 during the same period in 1923, a gain of 13.4 per cent. A ccordin g to reports of 230 dealers scattered through the district, sales of auto mobiles in April were 9.5 per cent larger than for the same month in 1923, and 18 per cent over the preceding month this year. Business of country deal ers continues well up to expectations, despite unfav orable weather conditions. The grow ing popularity of closed cars is given as an important factor in in creased sales. Stocks of new cars are reported about normal for this season, except in the case of the lowest price makes. The movement of accessories continues brisk, but no improvement was reported in the recent dull status of the tire trade. Intensive efforts on the part of dealers in St. Louis and other cities have re sulted in a substantial reduction in the number of used cars on hand. Boots and Shoes Sales of the 11 reporting interests in April were 10.9 per cent less than for the corresponding month in 1923, but 11.1 per cent in excess of the March total this year. A s has been the case for a number of months past, the demand for w om en’s footw ear is relatively much more active than for men’s shoes, and all sorts of novelties are m oving well. Comment is made that the average size of orders is the smallest in years, and buying is being pursued on extremely conservative lines. Mail orders are numerous, and shipments by parcels post and express unusually large. The outlet through this medium has materially assisted volume, but the cost of filling such orders is relatively much higher than on heavy shipments and materially reduces profits. N o price changes in finished goods wrere reported. Factory operation was at about 74 per cent of capacity. The total number of pairs of shoes^ manufactured in this district during April w^as 4. " per cent less than during the preceding month and for the country as a whole April production was 3.2 per cent under the March total. Clothing Fire-Clay Products Advance bookings are decidedly scarce, with prospective buyers asking price concessions that man ufacturers say they are unable to grant in the face of present production costs. Demand for medium and cheap priced apparel is relatively good, several local manufacturers of these lines being well sold up, though not to last year’s level. Scattered advance bookings in quantity are noted am ong these producers of cheaper lines, but elsewhere orders for fall delivery are insignificant. Continued price buying, reporting firms say, while not seriously cutting into volume in all cases, has served to reduce profits. One further factor, the unseasonable weather, has caused post ponement o f buying in summer lines, and has already prompted special sales of some typically summer items. April sales of the 11 reporting interests were 31.4 per cent under those of the same month a year ago, but 2.2 per cent above the March, 1924 total. Current demand for refractories products seems to reflect particularly well the spotted conditions pre vailing elsewhere. Sales to cement producers and glass manufacturers are holding up well while demand from the oil industry and iron and steel producers is sag ging. The principal interest is centered in numerous public improvement works, several of them vitrified, already under way. Contracts for others are pending. Inquiries since May 1 have been fewer and specifica tions smaller. Prices are unchanged. April sales of the 5 reporting interests were 5.9 per cent in excess of the same month a year ago and 38.8 per cent above the March, 1924, total. Drugs and Chemicals Sales o f the 11 reporting interests in April ex ceeded the total o f the same month in 1923 by 5.2 per cent and were 0.4 per cent larger than in March this year. Fair activity is reported through the entire line, except in the case of certain heavy chemicals used by manufacturers. The m ovement of certain items which was delayed by unseasonable weather earlier in the year is now above normal. The call for insecticides and spraying materials, especially from the South, is large, and there is also a heavy demand for live stock remedies. Sales of soda fountain sup plies, while in good volume, are reported somewhat under this time last year. Dry Goods Purchasing in this line continues principally on a hand to mouth basis and centers largely in season able items. The incipient improvement in volume of sales and tone noted during the fair weather of the first week in M ay was cut short by a return o f low temperatures and heavy rains. Stocks in the country are as a rule low, but few replenishments are neces sary because of the unfavorable weather condition and the fact that farmers are preoccupied with planting. In the cities some retail price reductions have ap peared, the idea being to stimulate the movement of summer goods. Increased curtailment of mill produc tion is lessening the pressure of stock goods, and the strength in spot cotton has resulted in minor advances on gray goods, sheetings and one or tw o other items. Otherwise prices were unchanged. April sales of the 11 reporting interests were 9.2 per cent under those of the same month in 1923 and 17.9 per cent under the March total this year. W holesale milliners report April sales as 10.4 per cent under those of the same month a year ago. Electrical Supplies A ctivity in the building industry and m ore favor able weather for outdoor w ork by the public utility companies were given as the chief factors in an in crease o f 2.5 per cent in April sales o f the 12 reporting interests as contrasted with the same month a year ago. Sales of pole line hardware and copper wire were reported excellent, and advance business on electric fans and other seasonal goods has been fully up to expectations. A further seasonal recession in demand for radio sets was reported, and sales of auto mobile equipment developed a recessionary tendency. Flour Production of the 11 leading mills in the district during April was 311,312 barrels, against 358,055 bar rels in March and 297,726 barrels in April, 1923. Con tinued dullness in the demand for all grades of flour is reported by both mills and jobbers. New business other than in less than car lot quantities is extremely light, and shipping directions on flour previously pur chased are only fair. Dom estic consumers are taking only enough to carry them from month to month, and are carrying the smallest reserve stock in years. No export business with Europe is possible on the bids made, but in the immediate past inquiries from South and Central American countries have improved slight ly. Mill operation during the period under review averaged about 64 per cent of capacity. No change in prices was reported. Furniture Sales of the 28 reporting interests during April were 20.6 per cent less than for the same month in 1923 and 10.3 per cent under the March total this year. The comment is made that dealers are pur chasing only for immediate needs, and there is an almost entire absence of stock orders. Unfavorable weather and muddy roads are holding down sales in the rural districts. Prices showed no change w orthy of note during the period under review, and manufac turers report that production costs are such as to prevent any concessions at this time. Factory opera tion averaged approximately 65 per cent of capacity. Groceries Although some improvement is noted in demand in typically urban sections, increasing idleness in min ing districts has served to offset this upturn so that total volume is just about holding its own. Extremely unseasonable weather and the consequent lateness o f garden vegetables has lent a stimulus to demand for canned goods, which are m oving in good volume for this time of year. Coffee continues in good demand, with prices firm on all grades. Sugar is dull with prices near the low o f the year. Business in rural sec tions, while slightly better than a month ago, is afected b y the disinclination of farmers to com e to town, due to the planting season. April sales of 21 reporting firms were 0.5 per cent under the same month last year, and 4.6 per cent under the March, 1924 total. April sales of reporting candy manufacturers were 7.8 per cent in excess of those of April, 1923. Hardware April sales of the 12 reporting interests were 6.9 per cent less than for the corresponding month in 1923, but 4.9 per cent in excess of the March total this year. A s has been the case for the past several months, builders’ hardware continues the most active section of the line. Some improvement in the demand for hand implements and wire products was reported, but generally the movement of farm supplies is below normal for this season. Iron and Steel Products The demand for both finished and semi-finished materials sustained a further slow ing down during the period under review. Shipments by mills and foundries were fairly well sustained, but the business represented was largely old orders, new bookings being in considerably 3maller volum e than work turned out. The dullness was accompanied by a gen erally easier price trend, with a number of specific reductions recorded. Purchasing by the railroads was confined largely to materials of which they are in immediate need, and there was a recession in takings of all varieties of materials by the autom otive indus try. Autom obile sheets were lower, while reductions were made in prices of black sheets, rivets, wire, nails and some other items. Oil country pipe and supplies for the oil fields generally are not m oving in as large volume as heretofore, and buying by the coal mining industry is at the lowest ebb noted in many months. Fabricators of structural iron and steel report a con tinued fair demand for their wares, but specifications are mainly on small jobs, few new large undertakings being initiated. There was a sharp decrease in pro duction of both pig iron and steel ingots during April as compared with March. Purchasing of pig iron was the slowest in more than a year, and tonnages taken were mainly for prompt shipment, no interest what ever being manifested in second half requirements. Factories specializing in grey castings report a dearth of new orders, and a number of plants have cut down their operations to three to four days per week. A d d i tional open hearth furnaces have been blown out at the steel mills, and producers report greater difficulty in rounding out their rolling schedules. Specialty makers, particularly the stove interests, report that ordering is on an extremely conservative basis, with advance sales the smallest at this particular season in years. Uncertainty relative to prices and the general policy of buying for immediate needs only are men tioned as the chief factors in the present lull. Quotably pig iron prices were unchanged, but concessions under current asking prices were obtainable where round tonnages were involved. There was a further decline in prices of scrap iron and steel, with virtually all grades affected by the weakness. April sales of stove manufacturers, 7 reporting, were 18.3 per cent under the same month in 1923 and 10.6 per cent less than the March total this year; railway supplies, 5 interests reporting, decreased 30.3 per cent under April, 1923, but gained 16 per cent over March this year; farm implement makers, 6 reporting, decreased 23.6 per cent under April, 1923, and 17 per cent under March this year; job foundries, 5 reporting, decreased 19.9 per cent under April, 1923, and 14.3 per cent under March this y e a r; manufacturers of boilers, stacks, elevators, radiators and miscellaneous products, 12 interests reporting, decreased 31.5 per cent under April, 1923, and 17.6 per cent under March this year. Lumber W hile the actual movement of stock from mills and from retail yards in the larger centers of the district has been very heavy the past thirty days, replenishing demand has been disproportionately light. The continued decline in prices provides the explana tion for present under-buying for retail needs. Indus trial takings of lumber have also further decreased, but the decline here is largely of seasonal occurrence, and except as to the automotive industry and possibly one or two other lines of production, the lessened buy ing is not regarded with any misgivings. Prices of lumber have now reached levels in the dow nw ard1 movement which, in the case of the major softw oods especially, are close around or below production costs. Douglas fir is noticeably below in many items. Consumption of Electricity Consumption of electricity for industrial power purposes is well maintained around the recent high levels. Decreases noted in tw o of the five reporting centers were more than offset by augmented consum p tion in the three remaining cities. The decline in St. Louis is attributable to reduced requirements of steel and automobile manufacturers exclusively. In three of the five centers, unseasonable weather has reduced the load taken by ice manufacturers as compared with the same month a year ago, and decreases are also shown by coal mines and furniture manufacturers. In Louisville, however, large building operations have resulted in greater consumption at w oodw orking plants, with the result that the increase there is due to these expansions and to heavier loads being taken by ice and cold storage plants. Detailed figures follow : No. of April, March, custom1924 1924 ers *K.W.H. *K.W.H. Evansville ....40 950 1,023 Little Rock....11 752 712 Louisville ....67 4,070 3,203 1,340 1,272 11,915 12,148 Apr. 1924 comp, to Mar. 1924 — 7.1% + 5.6 +27.1 + 5.3 — 1.9 Totals....224 19,027 18,358 *In thousands (000 omitted). + 3.6 April, Apr. 1924 1923 comp, to *K.W.H. Apr. 1923 1,039 — 8.5% + 19.0 632 3,262 +24.8 + 14.4 1,171 — 4.1 12,419 18,523 + 2.7 The follow ing figures, compiled by the Depart ment of Interior, give kilowatt production ior both lighting and industrial purposes for the entire cou n try : 1924 By water power January ..........................1,675,393,000 February ........................ 1,563,040,000 March ..............................1,711,104,000 By fuels 3,514,071,000 3,274,118,000 2,271,837,000 Totals 5,189,464,000 4,837,158,000 4,982,941,000 R E T A IL Unseasonable weather has occasioned a marked depression in the demand for typically summer goods, particularly in the country. The movement of men’s summer suits, underwear, shirts, straw hats, etc., has been disappointing, and sales of men’s shoes continue slightly below normal. Demand for w om en’s fancy shoes and children’s footwear is holding up well. Reports from all sections of the district indicate slug gishness in the movement of the entire line of w om en’s apparel, particularly the lighter w eight garments. Summer millinery has been adversely affected by the cool weather, and no change is noted in the recent dull conditions in hosiery. Some interest is noted in fancy dress goods, both silk and cotton, and sport clothes for men and women are in relatively better demand than other items of apparel. Except in the case of cheap novelty goods, the jew elry line contin ues quiet, with the demand for gems and high priced articles especially dull. Cold, wet weather has held down the movement of sporting gfoods generally, though a good demand is reported for golf and camp supplies. Cutlery, shelf hardware and building hardware and tools are reported fairly active, but the late sea son has retarded the movement of hand implements, and garden and farm supplies. Considerable interest is manifested in washing machines and other house hold electrical appliances, but sales of fans are back ward, and the usual seasonal recession in sales of radio sets is noted. Floor coverings and cheaper furniture items are fairly active, but the general line of furniture continues slow. In the immediate past there has been considerable effort to move summer goods through medium o f special sales and price concessions. April was a somewhat better month than May, as compared with a year ago, but this is partly due to the fact that m ost 1923 Easter buying came during March, whereas this year it was in the following month. A pril sales of 3 interests operating 1,491 chain grocery stores in the district exceeded those of the same month a year ago by 8.9 per cent and a fair increase is indicated for May. April sales of the 21 largest department stores in the district were 2.6 per cent in excess of those of April, 1923, and dollar sales for the year to date show no change as compared with the same period a year ago, although the price level is lower, indicating the movement of a slightly larger volume. Stocks are everywhere light. Detailed department store figures fo llo w : Net sales comparisons Stocks on hand April, 1924 Four months ending April 30, 1924 comp, to April 30, 1924, to comp, to April, 1923 same period, 1923 April 30, 1923 — 1.0% — 9.0% Evansville .....+12.0% Little Rock.....—- 3.8 — 2.1 — 1.8 + 0 .7 + 2 .5 Louisville .......+ 6.3 Memphis .......— 1.9 — 3.1 + 0.2 Quincy ...........+16.6 — 1.7 + 0.6 + 1.4 + 6.0 St. Louis.........+ 3.4 8th District....+ 2.6 0.0 + 3.3 Entire U. S....+ 9.9 + 4.5 + 5.4 Annual rate of stock turnover For 4 months ending April 30, 1924 1.73 2.21 2.68 2.24 2.13 3.11 2.69 2.96 A G R IC U L T U R E W eather conditions beginning the latter part of April were more favorable for growth and develop ment of crops, and generally through the district agricultural prospects have improved during the past thirty days. A s a rule things are still backward, due to protracted cool weather and excessive precipitation in many sections. Despite this handicap, however, farmers have accomplished a large amount of work, plowing, planting and cultivation being much nearer com pletion now than was thought possible for this date earlier in the season. W ith the possible excep tion of oats and tw o or three minor products, seeding of which was hampered by unfavorable conditions earlier in the spring, normal acreages of spring-sown crops are indicated. A ccordin g to the M ay 1 report of the U. S. Depart ment of Agriculture, winter wheat acreage abandon ment is one of the w orst in years, particularly in states east of the Mississippi River. Losses range from 5 per cent in Arkansas to 25 per cent in Kentucky and 50 per cent in Mississippi. In Illinois, the chief wheat State of the district, the abandonment amounted to 17 per cent. The condition of the grow ing crop is also reported low, every State in the district being under the 10-year average for M ay 1. Since the com pilation of the Department's data, however, vastly improved weather has prevailed, and except where complete destruction has been wrought, much of the lost ground may be retrieved before harvest. The indicated winter wheat output for the country as a whole is 553,013,000 bushels, the smallest since 1917, and com paring with 572,340,000 bushels harvested in 1923. W inter W heat The U. S. Department of Agriculture, in its report as of May 1, 1924, gives the condition of winter wheat as follows I Forecast *Har- Per 1924 vested *Acres Condition May 1 4 * Production produc- Farm price cent remaining % Apr. 15 Ten from May 1 tion aban to be har1923 1924 1923 doned vested 1924 1923 yr.av. condition .....1 ■ ' ' cents cents bu. bu. 573 106 122 90 770 Arkansas .. 5.0 81 59 86 100 118 33,950 60,534 Illinois ....17.0 2,425 70 81 84 124 100 34,188 Indiana . . . . 9.0 1,845 78 84 25,904 78 112 131 3,743 7,688 Kentucky 25.0 434 69 86 88 28 60 Mississippi 50.0 84 86 2 83 100 114 24,027 37,882 Missouri . . 7.0 2,069 79 86 87 134 122 2,620 4,508 Tennessee 14.0 319 74 88 87 U. S........ 7.6 36,898 84.8 80.1 86.3 553,013 572,340 95.8 108.4 *In thousands (000 omitted). Corn planting was in full swing, and in the South has been completed, with some fields where the plant is up having received first cultivation. In the more northern stretches of the district work is being pushed as weather will permit, and it is expected that seed ing will be finished by the second week in June. Scattered reports indicate acreages of corn about equal to last year, with some small increases in the South. Stocks of old corn in farmers’ hands are generally light. The outlook for fruits is in the main excellent. The peach crop has been damaged in certain sections and some complaints are received relative to apples, but prospects for cherries, plums, and ground fruits are uniformly good. Notable progress was made in the planting of commercial crops of vegetables which has been delayed and although the season is late, ample time remains for their cultivation. Pastures, though late, are in the main in as good condition as at this time last season, but in many sections are below tw o years ago and the 10-year average. The condition of live stock is slightly below the average for this season, due in part to shortage of forage, the severe winter and poor quality of feed in many sections. M ortality among sheep, cattle and swine is reported slightly above the average. Live Stock M ovem ent Receipts and shipments of live stock at St. Louis, as reported by the National Stock Yards, were as fo llo w s: * •Receipts April 1924 ...........388 Hogs Horses! and Mules.......... Sheep ........... 26 *In thousands (000 omitted). March 1924 '"6<r 388 4 19 April 1923 393 6 20 * Shipments April March April 1924 1923 1924 36 38 47 268 265 217 3 5 7 17 12 8 The supply of farm labor is reported generally below normal, but demand is also somewhat less than normal, and in a few sections supply is about equal to requirements. A temporary shortage o f help was reported in sections where the strawberry crop was being picked. A ctive preparations for planting this year's tobac co crop are in progress. Due to cool weather, plants in the beds are not as large as usual at this season. Indications point to a reduction in acreage of both burlev and dark tobacco by the market association farmers, but this reduction may be offset by increased efforts on the part of independent growers. A number of planters in southern Kentucky have signified their intention to reduce tobacco acreages and experiment in the grow ing of cotton. During the past few weeks advantage has been taken of every period of seasonable weather to com plete deliveries of the 1923 tobacco crop. T he greatest percentage of this crop is outstanding in the dark fired district. Market conditions continue auspicious and the lower grades are being readily taken at the highest prices of the season. The proportion of good and fine tobacco was relatively small in the 1923 crop, and these grades are bringing high prices. Virtually all of the old crop of rough rice has been marketed by producers, and planting of the new crop is well under way. Acreages equal to last year are generally indicated in the chief grow ing sections, but in some counties quite sharp increases are reported. Due to the excellent market and high prices for rice in recent months, farmers are making every effort to put in their crops in good condition, particular atten tion being given to selection of seed and to cultivation. The demand for clean rice continues strong, at prices unchanged from thirty days ago. Interest in cotton centers in the new crop prepara tion and progress. W eather conditions have not been uniformly favorable for seeding and growth, and in some sections excessive rains have necessitated re planting of limited areas. The amount of fertilizers being used is larger than last year, and quality is bet ter. Soil conditions are mainly excellent and some of the cotton planted is up to a good stand. In southern Missouri and sections of Kentucky and Tennessee, where cotton raising is a relatively new venture, con siderably larger acreages will be planted this year than last. Commodity Movement Receipts and shipments o f important commodities at St. Louis, as reported by the Merchants’ Exchange, were as fo llo w s : April 1924 Beef, lbs...................... 379 Com, bu...................... 3,587 Flour, bbls.................. 381 Hides, lbs.................... 5,234 Lard, lbs...................... 6,567 257 Lead, pigs.................. Lumber, cars.............. 22 Oats, bu...................... 2,870 Pork, lbs...................... 20,323 Wheat, bu.................... 1,481 Zinc, slabs.................. 239 *In thousands (000 omitted). ♦Receipts Maich April 1924 1923 150 861 2,863 2,180 451 404 7,933 5,597 7,198 5,595 304 239 20 21 2,670 2,824 21,420 18,350 1,656 2,024 329 361 *Shipments_______ April March April 1924 1924 1923 21,643 23,351 21,780 2,054 2,188 1,880 421 515 544 6,738 11,207 9,601 11,216 13,109 13,417 202 182 136 14 13 16 2,317 2,476 2,853 28,861 31,131 30,104 1,393 1,651 2,084 217 344 219 Commodity Prices Range of prices on typical products in the St. Louis market between A pril 15, 1924, and May 15, 1924, with closing quotations on the latter date, and on May 15, 1923: ________ close_________ Wheat High May ................ ....Per bu.$1.04^ July ................ 1.065* “ September ..... 1.0 754 “ No. 2 red winter.. a 1.15 54 No. 2 hard..... 1.08 Corn « May ................ .80 * * .81 July ................ “ September ..... .7954 No. 2................ .7954 “ No. 2 white..... .82 Oats May ................ .4954 “ No. 2 white..... .5154 T luur xT * lrilir* Soft patent..... bbl. 6.50 “ Spring patent.... 6.50 Middling cotton.... ....per lb. .31 Hogs on hoof..... 7.75 Low May 15, 1924 May 15, 1923 $1.17 $1,015* $1.0454 1 3/ .15 s 1.06§^ 1.0254 1.032* 1.065* 1.125* $1.11 @ 1.13 1.39 1.08 1.21 1.07 1.04 .7554 .76 .75 .7654 .7854 .7554 .7654 .7554 .76% @ .77 .80 @ .81 $ .85 @ .48 .4854 •4954 .5054 @ -5054 5.25 5.25 5.75 6.20 *29^4 5.00 5.00 @ 6.50 @ 6.40 .3054 @ 7.65 .8354 .815* .7854 .83 .8554 .4454 .46 @ .4654 6.00 @ 7.00 6.30 @ 6.65 .26 5.25 @ 8.10 B U IL D IN G J.II j J U l I l l U I V c lIU C , p c i m i i s 1 5S U C U 111 U IC I1 V C lc llg C S L cities of the district for new construction during April exceeded all preceding records. A s compared with March this year the total was 18.1 per cent larger, while a gain of 26.5 per cent was recorded over April, 1923. Numerically, April permits were the largest for any month this year. T h e largest increase in amount was shown in Louisville, where several large con struction projects were initiated. Generally through the district building continued active during the period under review. A feature of the activity was the large number of small homes, chiefly of the bunga low type, being erected in the smaller towns and suburbs of the large cities. The April lists, however, contained a fair proportion of business structures, theatres, hotels and apartment houses. Manufacturers of building materials report a continued brisk demand for their goods. Generally prices were unchanged, but minor reductions in reinforcing steel and lumber resulted in slight lowering of the average price of all building materials. Road construction work in all States of the district is being pushed under generally favorable weather and labor conditions. Production of portland cement for the country as a whole during April totaled 11,726,000 barrels, the highest figure this year and comparing with 10,370,000 barrels in March and 11,359,000 barrels in April, 1923. Building figures for April fo llo w : Evansville . Little Rock.. Louisville . Memphis ..... St. Loui New construction *Cost Permits 1924 1923 1924 1923 ‘ 200 ' 142 ' $ 325 $ 940 109 153 338 460 512 405 4,558 1,443 555 469 1,850 1,393 [,053 • 970 2,431 3,276 April totals....2,429 1,429 2,139 $9,502 $7,512 March totals..2,057 2,057 1,797 7,725 8,047 Feb. tot; 1,383 1,092 5,329 5,783 *In thousands of dollars (000 omitted). Repairs, etc. *tost Permits 1924 1923 1924 1923 ’ 283 128 $ 67 $ 29 111 131 56 51 196 215 102 123 152 101 65 37 721 635 379 615 1,463 1,210 1,053 949 651 652 $669 661 673 $855 918 746 Building and Loan Associations Unprecedented building activity and the general disposition to save are reflected in the steady expan sion of building and loan associations during the past three years. In six States of this district their com bined resources, on the last reporting date in 1923, were 17.8 per cent greater than in the preceding year and 37.3 per cent in excess of the 1921 total. Detailed figures fo llo w : Arkansas ....... . . . . .... .... Kentucky ....... .... Missouri ....... .... Tennessee ..... .... No. of Associations 1923 1922 1921 “T? T 7 54 771 739 710 376 369 372 140 121 118 201 190 224 14 12 11 1,497 Totals....... ...1,582 *In thousands (000 omitted). 1,455 1923 $ 29,377 232,093 167,943 55,000 75,376 3,877 *Resources 1922 $ 2^,049 201,928 140,945 46,429 60,498 3,473 1921 $ 21,500 174,360 121.595 40,092 49,769 3,285 $563,666 $478,322 $410,601 F IN A N C IA L A slight slow ing down in the demand for funds from general commercial and industrial sources and lower trend in interest rates were the principal fac tors in the banking and financial situation during the period under review. There was a rather sharp reduc tion in the volume of borrow ing by member banks from the Federal Reserve Bank, but total loans of the member banks at the middle of M ay were somewhat larger than at the corresponding time in April. D epos its showed only minor variations as contrasted with the preceding thirty days. Some improvement is noted in the demand for m oney in the country for agricultur al purposes, particularly in the South, where cotton planting is nearing completion. Banks specializing in live stock loans report a continued active demand from that source. Fair liquidation of a scattered char acter has taken place, with settlements in the tobacco areas reported very satisfactory. Marketing o f early fruits and vegetables has been delayed by unseason able weather, and the demand for financing those operations is under normal for this time of year. There was a further reduction in credits based on cereals, particularly corn, which has been m oving to market in larger volum e than heretofore. Between April 15 and May 15 accommodations granted by this institution to member banks decreased $1,002,105, and Federal reserve note circulation decreased $1,875,000. Commercial Paper Sales of reporting brokers in April were 18.4 per cent under the same month in 1923 and 37.9 per cent under the March total this year. The decrease is cribed to the lower rate and the fact that generally * wr inventories are resulting in smaller financial requirements by both manufacturers and wholesalers. Purchasing by country banks is relatively light, but a plethora of funds in city banks has had a tendency to increase buying by the latter class of financial insti tutions. Offerings have been in fair volume, but choice names are scarce and bear the minor figure of the rate differential. Some improvement has taken place in the demand during the past tw o weeks, and sales dur ing the first half of M ay were slightly in excess of the corresponding period a year ago. Rates range from 4% to 4 /2 per cent as compared with 4 /2 to 4j4 per J J cent during the preceding thirty days. Savings Deposits N um ber of banks reporting Evansville .... 4 L ittle R ock.. 5 Louisville .... 7 M em phis ......t4 St. L o u is ..... 12 A m ount of savings deposits A pril 2, M ay 2, M ay 7, 1924 1924 1923 $ 9,069 $ 9,053 $ 8,964 7,620 7,625 7,233 26,106 26,372 23,221 18,225 16,210 18,826 75,669 75,224 71,292 T otals.... t32 $137,545 *In thousands (000 om itted ), tD ecrease due to consolidation. $136,244 M ay 1924 com p, to A pr. 1924 M ay 1924 comp, to May 1923 *— 0.2% + 0.1 -J 1.0 - + 1.0% + 0.6 + 5.4 + 13.6 + 16.1 6.1 + 1.0 + + 3.3 + T otals.. ,...$1,040,183 $ 43,048 12,689 30,414 10,980 3,200 4,105 53,820 142,998 116,150 5,790 11,563 632,004 *13,352 + 16.8% 6.6 + 0.5 + 0.1 — __ 2.2 — 7.G 1.0 + 4.3 — 1.7 — 5.1 — 2.7 — 3.1 + 7.7 — 42.0 + — 1.4 $1,054,473 — 9.9% —4 .1 1 — 12.1 — — — + + + — — 5.6 5.9 3.5 1.5 8.7 2.9 9.6 10.3 — 6.2 — 4.1 *In thousands (000 om itted ). Condition of Banks Changes in the condition of banks in this district are reflected in the follow ing statement showing prin cipal resources and liabilities of reporting member banks in Evansville, Little Rock, Louisville, Memphis, and St. L o u is : *M ay 14, 1924 .. t34 L oans and discounts (incl. rediscounts) Secured b y U. S. G o v ’ t obligations...... Secured b y other stocks and b onds..... A ll other loans and discounts........... ....... *A pr. 16, *M ay 16, 1923 1924 f 35 36 ..$ 9,199 .. 147,231 .. 312,642 $ ..$469,072 T otal loans and discounts................... ......................$469,072 Investm ents .. 14,810 U . S. Pre-w ar bonds.................................... . 22,361 L iberty bonds................................................. 4,378 T reasury bonds............................................... .. 14,111 3,313 Indebtedness.. Certificates of .. 92,049 O ther securit 9,457 145,491 315,592 $ 15,018 135,562 308,225 $470,540 $458,805 14,981 24,193 4,371 14,748 3,995 89,745 15,332 21,969 9,068 29,667 5,512 86,864 $151,022 $152,033 $168,412 T otal investm ents........................... 43,019 41,089 38,597 R eserve balance with F. R. ba 7,484 7,676 8,036 Cash in vault................................. 360,215 358,761 360,552 N et demand deposits.................... 200,061 201,493 182,472 T im e deposits................................. 5,324 4,222 20,154 G overnm ent deposits.................... Bills payable and rediscounts w ith f e d e r a l reserve bank 1,600 5,257 7,873 Secured b y U . S. G ov’ t o .. 4,656 9,648 10,089 A ll other.................................... *In thousands (000 om itted ), f D ecrease due to consolidation, Total resources of these 34 banks comprise approxim ately 54 per cent of the resources of all m em ber banks in the district. *M ay 14, 1924 Gold with Federal R eserve A g e n t............ ....$ 63,685 Gold redemption fund with U . S. Treasury 2,426 *April 16, 1924 $ 64,213 3,187 Gold held exclusively against F. R . notes....$ 66,111 Gold settlement fund with F. R . Board.... .... 22,127 7,636 Gold and gold certificates held................... .... $ 67,400 15,085 6,903 $ 62,607 15,818 3,512 Total gold reserves..................................... ....$ 95,874 Reserves other than g o ld .............................. .... 14,078 $ 89,388 14,228 $ 81,937 17,738 reserves................................................ ....$109,952 $103,616 3,934 $ 99,675 4,580 6,963 17,086 10,906 21,438 15,026 17,497 T otal bills discounted............................ $ 24,049 3,418 Bills bought in open m arket....................... .... U. S. Governm ent secu rities: $ 32,344 5,183 $ 32,523 4,580 Total Bills d iscou n ted : Secured by U. S. Governm ent obligations Other bills discounted................................ — — Certificates of 5,136 1,830 Total U. S. Governm ent securities... .... $ 6,966 6,150 8,728 2,555 ------------- - 5,136 1,830 indebtedness..................... *M ay 16, 1923 $ 59,752 2,855 6,966 $ 17,433 $ 44,493 40,263 1,790 151 $ 61,114 37,731 948 301 R E S O U R C E S ...................... .... $187,596 $194,247 $204,349 $ 66,896 $ 76,961 69,283 1,681 749 71,307 2,280 465 67,145 4,237 491 $ 71,713 34,685 5,075 10,072 720 $ 74,052 37,475 5,065 10,072 687 $ 71,873 39,945 4,932 9,665 973 T O T A L L I A B I L I T I E S .................... , .,$187,596 M E M O — Contingent liability on bills 1,260 purchased for foreign correspondents... Ratio of total reserves to deposit and 80.2% F. R . note liabilities com bined,...,...... * ln thousands (000 om itted). $194,247 $204,349 $ 8.4 *F or four weeks ending M ay 1924 May 1924 A pr. 16, M ay 14, M ay 16, com p, to comp, to 1924 Apr. 1924 M ay 1923 1924 1923 $ 33,222 7,011 26,588 10,374 3,080 4,287 54.118 148,975 121,617 5,513 10,657 611,965 3,792 13,274 R E SO U R C E S Total earning assets............................... .... $ 34,433 37,200 U ncollected item s............................................ 1,898 Bank prem ises......................................... ......... 141 All other resources.......................................... $126,920 Debits to Individual A ccounts E. St. L ouis and N a t’ l. Stock Yards, 111..$ 38,787 El D orado, A r k ........... . 7.473 Evansville, In d ................. 26,721 F ort Smith, A r k .............. 10.362 3,012 G r r r - ’'iHe, M iss.............. H e h * ^ , A rk ..................... 3,963 Little R ock , A rk ............ 54,635 L ouisville, K y ................... 155,373 M em phis, Term ................ 119,527 O w ensboro, K y .............. 5,234 Q u in cy, III......................... 10,367 St. L ouis, M o ................... 592,947 Scdalia, M o ....................... 4,083 7,699 Springfield, M o .............. Federal Reserve Operations During April the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis discounted for 275 of its 633 member banks, which compares with 261 of its 631 member banks accommodated in March. The discount rate of this bank remains unchanged at 4 /2 per cent. J Changes in the assets and liabilities of the Fed eral Reserve Bank of St. Louis since a month ago and last year are shown in the follow ing statem ent: TOTAL L IA B IL IT IE S F. R. N otes in actual circulation............. Deposits : M em ber banks-reserve accou nt............. Other deposits............................................... Total deposits.......................................... Deferred availability item s........................... ,,$ 65,331 , 850 73.5% 1,263 67.0% C O S T O F L IV IN G Cost of living in the United States on April 15, 1924, had decreased nine-tenths of one per cent from the level of March 15, 1924, according to the National Industrial Conference Board. The most important changes within that period were decreases of 2.1 per cent in food prices and 3.2 per cent in fuel prices. Between July, 1920, when the peak of the rise in the cost of living since 1914 was reached, and April, 1924, the cost of living decreased 20.9 per cent. The increase since July, 1914, was 61.8 per cent. The follow ing table shows detailed changes: Percentage of decrease Percentage o f increase Relative in the cost of living in the cost of living im por on A pril 15, 1924, above average prices tance from average prices in in July, 1914, to — in Item April July M arch M arch July family 1920 1924 1924 1924 1920. budget 2.1 35.6 41 44 H T9 Food* ................ 43.1 17.1** 0.0 85 85 58 Shelter ............... 17.7 0.7*' 33.7 77 76 166 Clothing ............ 13.2 1.2** 2.3 68 72 66 Fuel and Light 5.6 (5 .7 ) (3 .2 ) (8 1 ) (8 7) (9 2 ) (F u e l) .......... (3 .7 ) 0.0 (2 3 .4 )* * (4 2) (4 2 ) (1 5 ) (L ig h t) ........ (1 .9 ) 0.0 5.9 74 74 85 Sundries .......... 20.4 W eighted average 0.9 61.8 20.9 83.2 104.5 of all items....100.0 F ood price changes are from the U nited States Bureau of L abor Statistics. The purchasing value of the dollar based on the cost of living in April, 1924, was 61.8 cents as con trasted with one dollar in July, 1914. (Compiled May 24, 1924) 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 Production The Federal Reserve Board’s index of production in basic industries, adjusted to allow for seasonal variations, declined 2 per cent in April. Declines were particularly large in the iron and steel, coal and woolen industries. Mill consumption of cotton, on the other hand, showed less than the usual sea sonal reduction between March and April. Factory employ ment declined 2 per cent in April owing chiefly to large reduc tion of forces at textile and clothing establishments. Contract awards for new buildings reached a higher value than in March and were also larger than a year ago. Latest figure, April— 114. Value of building permits granted, however, declined and was smaller than in the corresponding month of 1923. The Department of Agriculture’s estimates on May 1 of yields of winter wheat and rye are somewhat above the fore casts made in April. The acreage of winter wheat is estimated at 7 per cent less than last year. Trade Railroad shipments, which since the middle of March have been smaller than last year, were 3 per cent less in April than a year ago. Shipments of coal were much below last year, while loadings of merchandise and miscellaneous freight were higher. Wholesale trade in April was in about the same volume as during the preceding month and as in April, 1923. Sales of dry goods and hardware were smaller than a year ago, while sales of drugs and shoes showed some increase. Department store sales were considerably larger in April than in March, partly owing to the unusually late Easter. Total sales for the two months were 2 per cent greater than in the corresponding period of 1923. Merchandise stocks at department stores showed less than the usual seasonal increase in April, but were at a higher level than a year ago. Prices According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ index, prices declined 1 per cent during April and reached the iowest point since May, 1922. Farm products, however, advanced 2 per cent in April. Metals and foods showed substantial ^ u c t io f y Prices of clothing, fuel and chemicals also declined, prices of building materials and house furnishings, remained unchanged. During the first half of May, quotations on cotton, wheat, flour and hogs increased, while prices of sugar, silk, wool and metals declined. Latest figure, April=148. Bank Credit During the five w eek period ending May 14, the volume of T borrowing for commercial purposes at member banks in lead ing cities declined somewhat from the high level reached early in April. There were increases, however, in loaiisfou stocks and bonds and in investments in securities, so that the total of all loans and investments at the middle of May was higher than a month previous, and in larger volume than at any time in more than three years. Volume of borrowing by member banks at Federal reserve banks declined further during the last week of April and in May. while holdings of securities bought in the open market increased slightly. Total earning assets declined to $795,000,000 on May 21, the lowest figure since the autumn of 1917. Further easing of money conditions during the last week of April and the first three weeks of May was reflected in a continued rise of the price of government securities, in a reduction from Ay2 to 4% per cent in the rate for prime com mercial paper, and a decline in the rate for bankers’ acceptances from 4 to 3 per cent. On May 1 the discount rate of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was reduced from 4 ^ to 4 per cent. Latest figure, May 21,