Half of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks reported an increase in mortgage refinancings by lenders operating in their districts, according to the central bank's new 'Beige Book' report.

"New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Chicago, and Kansas City all noted an increase in mortgage refinancing activity given lower mortgage rates," the Fed says.

The periodic survey of regional economic activity also noted that home sales, "remained weak and home prices were reported to be either flat or declining across all the districts."

But there was good news in multifamily construction with the Fed reporting that the building of new units “continued to increase at a moderate pace" in the Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Kansas City, Dallas and San Francisco districts.

For the most part, single-family construction remained at low levels, but the Philadelphia, Cleveland and Minneapolis regions reported small increases in activity.

The Beige Book reflects economic conditions during September and early October.  The district banks had to file their reports by October 7.

The previous Beige Book noted a "few slight improvements" in the housing market during July and August but said housing markets "remained weak overall.”

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