Last week’s scheduled economic reports included readings on pending home sales, Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, and labor sector reports on private and public-sector job growth. Data on construction spending was also released. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.
Pending Home Sales Jump in May
Sales of homes for which purchase contracts were signed rose by 44.30 percent in May and was the highest month-to-month increase recorded since the report’s inception in 2001..Pending home sales are sales with signed purchase contracts but aren’t closed.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors® said, “This has been a spectacular bounce-back and also speaks to how the housing sector could lead the way for a broader economic recovery.” This positive news could be dampened by rising infection rates for the Covid-19 outbreak as some states reversed decisions to re-open additional parts of their economies.
Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Rises in April
The Case-Shiller National Home Price Index reported that home prices grew by 0.10 percent to 4.70 percent on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. This reading lagged behind the worst part of the Covid-19 outbreak and analysts cautioned that home price growth would fall in the future. The Case-Shiller 20-City Index reported the top three cities for home price growth were Phoenix, Arizona, Seattle, Washington, and Minneapolis Minnesota. The geographical disparity between these cities differs from recent years when coastal cities dominated home price growth rates.
In related news, the Commerce Department reported improvement in construction spending in May. Construction spending fell -2.20 percent in May as compared to -3.50 percent in April.
Mortgage Rates Hit All-Time Low; Jobless Claims Ease
Freddie Mac reported the lowest mortgage rates reported since the inception of their Primary Mortgage Market Survey. Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.07 percent and were eight basis points lower. Rates for 15-year mortgages dropped by three basis points on average to 2.56 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages dropped by eight basis points on average to 3.00 percent.
Discount points averaged 0.80 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
New jobless claims fell to 1.43 million claims filed from the prior week’s reading of 1.48 million initial claims filed. Ongoing jobless claims rose from 19.20 million claims to 19.30 million continuing jobless claims.filed. New and continuing jobless claims were far above pre-coronavirus levels.
Job Growth Reports Mixed as Unemployment Rate Falls
ADP reported 2.37 million private-sector jobs added in June as compared to May’s reading of 3.07 million private sector jobs added. The federal government’s Non-Farm Payrolls report showed 4.80 million public and private sector jobs added in June as compared to 2.70 million public and private sector jobs added in May.
This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on job openings and weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims.
Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index showed little change in April as home prices rose by 0.10 percent to a year-over-year average of 4.70 percent. The 20-City Home Price Index showed corresponding home price growth of 0.10 percent to 4.00 percent year-over-year.
Ongoing influences on home price growth before the coronavirus pandemic included short supplies of available homes coupled with high demand for homes and low mortgage rates. While closures and shelter-at-home restrictions in many markets slowed buyer and seller activity, real estate analysts said that home-buyer desiring to buy larger homes to accommodate working at home helped maintain home prices. Homeowners relocating to less congested areas also helped with stabilizing home-price growth in April.
Case-Shiller 20-City Index: Home-Price Growth Rates Increases in 12 Cities
The three top cities in April’s 20-City Home Price Index were Phoneix, Arizona with a year-over-year home price growth rate of 8.80 percent; Seattle, Washington reported 7.30 percent yearly growth in home prices. Minneapolis, Minnesota reported home-price growth of 6.40 percent.
Home price growth rates increased in 12 of 19 cities reported. Detroit Michigan did not report to the 20-City Index for the second consecutive month. The coronavirus pandemic continued to grow and spread throughout the U.S during May; some states that opened their economies quickly are now reconsidering as Covid-19 cases rise at faster rates. Changing data and emerging responses to the spreading virus are expected to impact home price growth in the coming months according to whether the coronavirus spreads or diminishes.
FHFA Home Price Index: Home Prices Increase Despite Coronavirus Pandemic
The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported 5.50 percent home price growth year-over-year in April compared to the March reading of 5.90 percent year-over-year growth. FHFA expects home prices to continue rising as real estate markets return to normal. With spring and early summer home sales impacted by coronavirus-related restrictions, Lynn Fisher, deputy director of research and statistics for FHFA, expected sales to pick up during the summer months.
As coronavirus infection rates increase, further restrictions and closings are anticipated and could negatively impact real estate markets and home prices soon.
Last week’s scheduled economic news included readings on sales of new and pre-owned homes and reports on inflation. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new and continuing jobless claims were also released.
Home Sales Results Mixed for May
The National Association of Realtors® reported fewer sales of pre-owned homes in May at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 3.91 million sales. Analysts expected 3.80 million sales as compared to April’s reading of 4.33 million sales. This was the lowest reading for sales of pre-owned homes since July 2010 and sales were 26.60 percent lower year-over-year.
Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors®, said that sales were expected to rise as coronavirus-related restrictis were lifted and people returned to work. Mr. Yun said in a report that sales of previously-owned homes should surpass last year’s annual sales pace in the second half of 2020. Mr. Yun made this forecast before rising coronavirus cases occurring after the reopening of the economy started.
There was a 4.80 months supply of previously-owned homes for sale in May, which was below the six-months supply indicating a balanced market.
The Commerce Department reported 676,000 new homes sold in May on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis; this surpassed expectations of 650,000 sales and April’s revised annual sales pace of 580,000 new homes sold. New home sales rose by 45.50 percent in May in the Northeastern region; New home sales rose by 29 percent in the West and 15.20 percent in the South, New home sales fell by -6.40 percent in the Midwest.
The average sale price of new homes was $317,900 in May. There was a 5.60 months supply of new homes available in May, which nearly matched the six months average inventory.
Mortgage Rates Hold Steady as JoblessClaims Fall
Freddie Mac reported little change in average mortgage rates last week. Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages were unchanged at an average rate of 3.13 percent; The average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by one basis point to 2.59 percent and the average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages fell one basis point to 3.08 percent. Discount points averaged 0.80 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
Initial jobless claims fell to 1.48 million from the prior week’s reading of 1.51 million new claims. Continuing jobless claims were also lower last week with 19.50 million claims filed as compared to 20.30 million claims filed the previous week.
Rising Inflation Indicates Improving Economy
Inflation rose to a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 8.20 percent in May as compared to April’s reading of -12.60 percent Analysts expected the inflation rate to reach 9.90 percent.
This week’s scheduled economic news releases include readings on pending home sales, Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, and labor-sector jobs reports. The national unemployment rate will be released along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new and continuing jobless claims.
Last week’s scheduled economic reporting included readings on U.S. Housing markets, housing starts, and building permits issued. Weekly reports on new and continuing jobless claims and mortgage rates were also released.
NAHB: Builder Confidence in Housing Market Recovers in June
Analysts cited slim supplies of available homes, tight housing markets, and low mortgage rates as drivers of new home sales. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions rose 21 points to an index reading of 58 in June; builder confidence in housing market conditions in the next six months rose 22 points to 68.
Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new single-family housing developments rose from May’s index reading of 21 to 43 in June. Readings for buyer traffic are typically lower than the benchmark reading of 50.
Readings over 50 indicate that most builders are confident about housing market conditions and component readings of the Housing Market Index. Prospective home buyers continued to face obstacles of high unemployment and loss of income due to the coronavirus pandemic; these factors will likely impact builder confidence for months ahead as impacts of the pandemic change.
Housing Starts, Building Permits Issued Increase in May
The Commerce Department reported 974,000 housing starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis in May as compared to a pace of 934,000 housing starts reported in April. Building permits issued in May rose to 1.22 million permits issued on an annual basis from April’s pace of 1.07 million permits issued. Analysts expected 1.25 million permits to be issued in May on an annual basis.
Mortgage Rates Hit All-Time Low as Jobless Claims Decrease
Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates that were the lowest mortgage rates recorded. The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was eight basis points lower at 3.13 percent; interest rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.58 percent and were four basis points lower than for the prior week. Interest rates for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages averaged one basis point lower at 3.09 percent. Discount points averaged 0.80 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages.
First-time jobless claims fell to 1.51 million claims last week as compared to the prior week’s reading of 1.57 million initial claims filed. Continuing jobless claims also fell; 20.50 million claims were reported as compared to 20.60 million ongoing jobless claims reported the prior week.
This week’s scheduled economic reports include reports on sales of new and previously-owned homes, FHFA’s Home Price Index, and the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index.
Last week’s economic reporting included readings on inflation, the post-meeting statement from the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee, and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.
Inflation Ticks Up in May
May’s Consumer Price Index moved from April’s reading of -0.80 percent to -0.10 percent. The Core Consumer Price Index, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, rose to -0.40 percent in May as compared to April’s reading of -0.40 percent. The Consumer Price Indices are used to calculate overall and core inflation rates. The Federal Reserve uses an annual inflation rate of 2.00 percent as an indicator for achieving price stabilization.
The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve said in its post-meeting statement that the Fed would do all it can to ease the economic downturn caused by the Coronavirus and left the current federal funds rate of 0.00 to 0.25 percent unchanged. Fed Chair Jerome Powell indirectly encouraged legislators to approve funding for additional coronavirus relief.
Mortgage Rates Remain Stable as Jobless Claims Fall
Freddie Mac reported little change in average mortgage rates last week as the average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by three basis points to 3.21 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.62 percent and were unchanged from the previous week. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was also unchanged at 3.10 percent. Average discount points rose to 0.90 percent and 0.80 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.40 percent.
Jobless claims remained far higher than pre-coronavirus levels but were lower last week than for the prior week. 1.54 million first-time jobless claims were filed as compared to 1.90 million claims filed the previous week. 29.50 million continuing jobless claims were filed last week as compared to the prior week’s reading of 30.20 million continuing unemployment claims.
The University of Michigan reported a higher index reading for consumer sentiment in May with a reading of 87.8 as compared to April’s index reading of 82.3.
This week’s scheduled economic reports include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index and Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and unemployment claims will also be released.
The Federal Reserve’s monetary policy committee decided against changing the Fed’s benchmark interest rate range of 0.00 to 0.25 percent. The Federal Open Market Committee said in its post-meeting statement that it is not considering raising rates until 2023. Two of 17 FOMC members felt that the Fed’s key rate may rise in 2022.
Fed Approves Quantitative Easing Measures
Committee members also stabilized the Federal Reserve’s ongoing purchases of Treasury bills and mortgage-backed securities and said that the Fed would purchase Treasury bills and mortgage-backed securities “at least at the current pace.” The Fed was tapering its purchases before the Coronavirus pandemic.
FOMC members moved to stimulate the economy through quantitative easing. The Fed purchased $20 billion in Treasurys and agreed to purchase up to $22.5 billion in mortgage-backed securities this week. The Fed’s balance sheet was higher than $7 trillion as of June’s FOMC meeting, but former New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley expected the Fed’s balance sheet to reach $10 trillion.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell remained cautious about a quick economic recovery in response to last week’s report of 2.5 million jobs added in May. Mr. Powell noted that it was only one month’s data and that 20 million people remain out of work. Some analysts interpreted Mr. Powell’s comments as pressure on Congress to approve another stimulus package. FOMC members also discussed capping certain Treasury yields, but no decision was made.
Federal Reserve Chair Favors a Cautious Approach to Economic Recovery
Fed Chair Jerome Powell emphasized the Fed’s position of supporting the economy to the extent it is permitted. In his post FOMC meeting press conference, Mr. Powell said the Fed’s goals during the pandemic were to “provide some relief and stability, ensure that the recovery will be as strong as possible and to limit lasting damage to the economy.”
Mr. Powell predicted that the decline in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the current quarter would likely be the most severe to date. He also said that the Coronavirus has not impacted Americans equally as “those least able to shoulder the burden have been the most affected.”
After saying that the extent of the economic downturn and the pace of economic recovery remains extremely uncertain, Mr. Powell indirectly called upon Congress to pass needed funding and provisions to provide additional relief until economic conditions return to normal. He said that the Fed would do “whatever we can, for as long as it takes” to assist in economic recovery.