Last week’s economic reports included National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Market Index, the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.
Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued were delayed due to the federal government shutdown, which continued and became the longest government shutdown on record.
NAHB: Builder Confidence Rises Amid Headwinds
Home builder confidence rose two points in January according to the National Association of Home Builders. Builder concerns over rising construction costs and tariffs on building materials were balanced by falling mortgage rates.
Builders felt pressure to create more affordable homes and to offer incentives to buyers that could create more sales. Building new homes is the only solution to the long-entrenched shortage of homes; the Home builder index is closely watched by housing and mortgage industry pros as an indicator of future home inventories and mortgages.
Federal Reserve Beige Book Shows Concern Over Current Economic Conditions
The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report, which recounts Federal Reserve business contacts’ views of the economy included information from eight of twelve Federal Reserve districts. Business leaders cited higher costs including rising tariffs and costs for supplies. Business growth was slower during December and early January.
Additional concerns cited by the Fed’s business contacts included the government shutdown and conflicts over trade and political policies. Fed contacts reported mixed results with passing on higher costs to consumers. This suggests that consumers are “tapped out,” or are reining in spending among worries over the shutdown and rising costs.
Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims
Freddie Mac reported mixed activity on mortgage rates last week as the average rate for 330-year fixed rate mortgages was unchanged at 4,45 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage ticked down one basis point to 3.88 percent. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose four basis points to 3.37 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
Fewer first-time jobless claims were filed last week with 213,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 220,000 new claims filed and 216,000 first-time claims filed in the prior week.
The University of Michigan released its consumer confidence index for January; consumer uncertainty about economic conditions and the government shutdown caused January’s reading to fall nearly eight points to 90.70. from December’s reading of 98.30 Analysts expected a reading of 97.50, but this may have been based in hopes that the government shutdown would end.
This week’s economic reports are limited by Monday’s holiday and the ongoing government shutdown. Expected readings include sales of new and pre-owned homes along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.
Last week’s economic reports included remarks by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, readings on inflation and core inflation. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-tome jobless claims were also released. If the government shutdown continues, it is expected to impact release dates for readings from federal government agencies.
Federal Reserve Watches and Waits on Interest Rates as Inflation Slows
Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve will “wait and see” about raising the target federal funds rate this year. Chairman Powell spoke at a discussion hosed by the Economic Club of Washington, D.C. Mr. Powell clarified the Fed’s estimate of two rate hikes during 2019 and said that the predicted two rate hikes would occur based on “a very strong economic outlook for 2019.”
Faltering financial markets and slower rates of home price growth caused the Fed to dial back it’s bullish outlook and instead emphasize that Fed monetary policy is flexible and could be adjusted quickly adjusted as changing economic conditions merit.
Mortgage Rates and New Jobless Claims Fall
Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages fell six basis points to 4.45 percent; rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages fell 10 basis points to 3.89 percent.
The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate e mortgages was 15 basis points lower at 3.85 percent Discount rates averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages, points for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 0.40 percent and discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.30 percent.
First-time jobless claims fell by 15,000 claims to 216,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected 227,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 231,000 new claims filed.
December’s Consumer Price Index was – 0.10 percent lower than for November, which matched expectations based on November’s positive inflation rate reading of + 0.10 percent. Slowing inflation could indicate slower economic growth; a consistent pattern of sluggish inflation may cause the Fed to hold steady on raising its key interest rate.
This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on the National Association of Homebuilders Housing Market Index, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. The Consumer Sentiment Index is also scheduled for release. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and initial jobless claims will be released on schedule.
Last week’s economic reports included Labor Department readings on private and public sector jobs, the national unemployment rate. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released. Monthly reporting on construction spending was delayed due to the government shutdown.
Public and Private-Sector Jobs Growth Exceeds Expectations
ADP reported 271private sector jobs added in December as compared to 157,000 jobs added in November. Analysts expected 182,000 jobs added for December and said that December’s reading was the highest number of jobs added in almost two years. Large companies added 54,000 jobs, medium sized companies added 129,000 jobs and small companies added 89,000 private-sector jobs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 312,0000 public and private-sector jobs were added in December, which was more than double November’s reading of 176,000 public and private-sector jobs added. Analysts predicted 182,000 new jobs added for December.
In related news, the national unemployment rose to 3.90 percent from November’s level of 3.70 percent. While the unemployment rate was expected to dip to 3.60 percent, it rose due to more workers seeking jobs. Unemployment rates are determined as a percentage of workers actively seeking employment. A larger pool of people seeking work suggested expanding job opportunities.
Mortgage Rates Fall as New Jobless Claims Rise
Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week as rates for fixed rate mortgage were four basis points lower at 4.51 percent; rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.99 percent and rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged two basis points lower at 3.99 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages, 0.30 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.20 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
In remarks made at the American Economic Association, current Fed Chair Jerome Powell joined former Fed Chairs Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke to comment about the economy in 2018 and emphasized that Fed policy would be adjusted quickly and flexibly” if economic conditions warrant. All three Fed Chairs expected a slowing of economic growth in 2019, but their overall outlook was positive.
First-time jobless claims rose by 10,000 new claims to 231,000 first-time claims filed. Expectations of 218,000 new claims filed were based on the prior weeks reading of 221,000 new claims filed. The increase in new claims filed was caused in part by holiday season fluctuations and more people actively seeking jobs. Unemployed workers must be actively seeking work to qualify for unemployment benefits.
This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on job openings, minutes of the December meeting of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee, and inflation. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.
Home prices rose by 0.40 percent in October according to Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index and were unchanged from September’s year-over-year reading of 5.50 percent growth.
Slower growth in home prices could help some would-be home buyers enter the market, but rapidly rising mortgage rates have sidelined buyers concerned with affordability and meeting strict mortgage lending requirements.
High Mortgage Rates Stifle Demand for Homes
October’s year-over-year reading for home price growth was the lowest in two years, but home price growth continued to exceed wage increases; builders continued to face labor shortages and higher materials costs. Rising mortgage rates were a major cause of lower demand for homes as the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage increased from les than 3.50 percent at the beginning of 2017 to a high point of 4.94 percent in September.
Mortgage rates have fallen in recent weeks but remain more than one percent higher than they were two years ago. Recent volatility in financial markets and concerns over general economic conditions also contributed to a lower pace of home price growth.
Las Vegas Leads Cities with Highest Home Price Growth
The top three cities in October’s Case-Shiller 20-City index were Las Vegas, Nevada with year-over-year hone price growth of 12.80 percent; San Francisco, California’s home prices rose by 7.90 percent year-over-year and Phoenix, Arizona home prices rose by 7.70 percent year-over-year.
October’s home price growth rates suggest that West Coast cities such as San Francisco, and Seattle, Washington may be losing their domination over double-digit home price growth rates they’ve enjoyed in recent years. Slower rates of home price growth could indicate that home prices have topped out in costly metro areas.
David M. Blitzer, managing director and chair of S&P Dow Jones Index Committee, echoed analyst’s concerns: “Rising home prices and mortgage rates mean fewer people can afford to buy a house.” The Fed’s recent decision to raise its key interest rate range for the third time in 2018 concerned some economists, but the Fed said that its Federal Open Market Committee predicts that it will raise rates only twice next year based on current and expected economic conditions in 2019.
Banks and credit-card companies typically follow the Fed’s interest rate decisions; this means that rates for consumer lending including mortgages are likely to increase in 2019.
Last week’s economic reports included readings from Case-Shiller Housing Market Indices, National Association of Realtors® on pending home sales and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.
The Commerce Department’s reading on sales of new homes was delayed due to the federal government’s shutdown.
Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Lowest in Two Years
Home price growth was nearly nil with October’s month-to-month reading of 0.40 percent; The Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index showed a year-over-year home price growth rate of 5.50 percent, which matched September’s year-over-year reading. Las Vegas, Nevada led home price growth in the 20-city index with a year-over-year increase of 12,80 percent; San Francisco, California had home price growth of 7,90 percent and Phoenix, Arizona home prices grew by 7.70 percent year-over-year in October.
While San Francisco, California, Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon dominated the top three spots in the 20-City Home Price Index in recent years, the latest home price growth rates indicate that the West Coast may be easing off on its rapid home price gains. High-cost metro areas risk reaching a tipping point when there are few properties available with very high prices and buyers competing.
,Affordability and slim choice of available homes can cause would-be buyers to sideline themselves while they await more options and lower prices. Rising mortgage rates caused concern among buyers concerned with affordability and qualifying for mortgage loans under strict lender requirements.
Pending Home Sales Improve, But Remain in Negative Territory
Future home sales slipped in November, but less so than they did in October. Pending sales registered in negative territory with a reading of -0.70 percent in November as compared to October’s reading of -2.60 percent.
Analysts and real estate pros view pending sales as an indication of future completed sales and mortgage activity; falling numbers for pending home sales suggest slowing home sales that could impact housing markets. Pending sales are considered sales for which purchase contracts have been signed, but that have not closed.
Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims
Freddie Mac reported lower averaged fixed mortgage rates with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage lower by seven basis points at 4.55 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by six basis points to 4.01 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose two basis points to 4.00 percent. Falling mortgage rates could induce discouraged home buyers to look for homes again.
First-time jobless claims dropped by 1000 claims to 216,000 new claims filed. Analysts predicted a reading of 217,000 mew claims filed, which was unchanged from the prior week’s reading.
This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on construction spending, non-farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time unemployment claims are also scheduled. Please note that some scheduled readings could be delayed due to the federal government shut-down.
Last week’s economic news included readings from the National Association of Home Builders, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and National Association of Realtors® report on sales of previously-owned homes. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.
NAHB: Home Builders Lose Confidence as Housing Crunch Continues
Homebuilder confidence fell to a 36 month low in December as homebuilder concerns over rising home prices, high mortgage rates and decreasing inventories of available homes sidelined home buyers. The NAHB Housing Market Index fell four points to 56.
Components of the Housing Market Index reading also fell as builder confidence in current market conditions fell six points to an index reading of 61; builder confidence in new home sales over the next six months fell by four points to a reading of 61. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new home developments dipped two points to 43.
While any reading over 50 is considered positive, buyer traffic readings under 50 are not unusual.
Analysts and real estate pros often consider the Home Builders Housing Market Index as an indicator of future new home construction and sales. Rising home prices and mortgage rates were cited as reasons contributing to the drop in home builder confidence.
Existing Home Sales, Housing Starts and Building Permits Issued Rise in November
Sales of pre-owned homes rose in November with 5.32 million sales reported on an annual seasonally adjusted basis. Analysts expected a reading of 5.17 million sales based on October’s sales pace of 5.22 million sales.
Three out of four regions reported gains in sales of pre-owned homes. The Northeast reported a gain of 7.20 percent; the Midwest reported a year-over-year gain of 5.50 percent and sales of pre-owned homes were 2.50 percent higher in the South. The West lost traction in existing home sales with a negative reading of -6.30 percent. Known for high home prices, it may be that home prices have peaked in the West.
The Commerce Department reported housing starts at the rate of 1.25 million in November; analysts predicted a rate of 1.230 million starts based on October’s reading of 1.217 million starts. November building permits rose to 1.328 million permits issued as compared to a reading of 1.265 million permits issued in October.
Analysts said that more apartment homes were being built; this trend could be a further indication of home prices being out of reach for would-be home buyers.
Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Dip
Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week; 30-year fixed mortgage rates averaged 4.62 percent and were one basis point lower than in the prior week. 15-year fixed mortgage rates were unchanged at an average of 4.07 percent.
The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was six basis points lower at 3.98 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
First-time jobless claims fell last week to 206,000 claims filed. Analysts predicted 218,000 new jobless claims based on the prior week’s reading of 206,000 new unemployment claims filed.
This week’s scheduled economic readings include Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, new and pending home sales and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. Government shutdown may impact some readings.