February 22nd, 2016 categories: Financial Reports
Last week’s economic news included the NAHB Housing Market Index, Commerce Department releases on housing starts and building permits and minutes of the most recent meeting of the Fed’s FOMC meeting.
Home Builder Confidence Falls in February
According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), home builders had less confidence in market conditions for newly built homes. The reading for February was three points lower at 58 than the upwardly adjusted reading for January. Analysts had expected a reading of 59; any reading over 50 indicates that more builders are confident about conditions than those who are not.
Builder confidence was mixed for the three components used to calculate the NAHB Wells Fargo Housing Market Index reading. Confidence in current market conditions was lower by three points to 65, but builder confidence in future market conditions rose one point to 65. The reading for buyer foot traffic in new housing developments hasn’t topped the benchmark of 50 since the peak of the housing bubble; in February, the reading for buyer foot traffic dropped five points to 39.
NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said that builder confidence is likely to improve in 2016 due to low mortgage rates, stable job markets and pent-up demand for homes. Mr. Crowe also said that shortages of available land and labor were concerns for builders.
Housing Starts,Building Permits Issued Lower
Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued also showed lower readings for January than for December. Housing starts reached 1.099 million starts in January as compared to an expected reading of 1.165 million starts and December’s reading of 1.145 million starts. Winter weather likely contributed to fewer housing starts.
Fewer building permits were issued in January than in December. January’s reading was 1.202 million permits issued as compared to December’s reading of 1.143 million building permits issued. Building permits issued for single family homes dropped by 1.60 percent to 731,000 permits issued. While lower month-to-month readings for current conditions may seem discouraging, the pace of single-family home building grew steadily during 2015 and is expected to do likewise in 2016.
FOMC Minutes: Policy Makers Eye Economic Developments
Minutes of January’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting indicate that members will closely monitor developing economic conditions as part of any future decision to raise the target federal funds rate from its current range of 0.250 to 0.500 percent. The Fed raised this rate in December, but did not increase the federal funds rate at its January meeting. Fed Chair Janet Yellen emphasized that decisions to raise the federal funds rate were not on a pre-determined course and that developing economic trends would continue to inform FOMC decisions.
Mortgage Rates and Weekly Jobless Claims
Average rates for fixed rate mortgages were unchanged last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.65 percent and the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 2.95 percent with Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for both types of fixed rate mortgages. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 2.85 percent with average discount points at 0.40 percent.
Analysts have consistently cited stronger labor markets as a factor driving U.S. housing markets. New weekly jobless claims dropped last week and added evidence of expanding job markets. 262,000 new jobless claims were filed last week; the reading was lower than expectations of 275,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 269,000 new jobless claims. Stable job markets are important to would-be home buyers; as labor conditions improve more buyers are likely to enter the housing market.
This week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on sales of new and pre-owned homes and the Case-Shiller 10 and 20 City Home Price Indices. Reports on consumer sentiment and inflation will also be released.
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February 16th, 2016 categories: Market Outlook
Last week’s economic events included weekly releases on new jobless claims, mortgage rates and testimony by Fed Chair Janet Yellen concerning the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy. Here are the details:
Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Drop
Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates fell across the board last Thursday, with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage seven basis points lower at 3.65 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was six basis points lower at 2.95 percent, and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was two basis points lower at 2.83 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30 and 15 year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
Lower mortgage rates may encourage first-time and moderate income home buyers to enter the market, although slim supplies of available homes and rising home prices have caused ongoing concerns about affordability in many markets.
Weekly jobless claims were also lower. 269,000 new claims were filed as compared to estimated claims of 280,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 285,000 new jobless claims. This was the lowest reading in two months and suggests healthy labor markets as more workers find jobs. Readings lower than 300,000 new jobless claims indicate healthy jobs markets. The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims was lower by 3500 claims at 281,250 new claims filed. Analysts consider the four-week reading as a more accurate indicator of labor markets as it smooths out anomalies in weekly claims.
Yellen Testimony: Fed Won’t Change Course on Rates
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said that she doesn’t expect interest rate cuts in view of slowing economic indicators. In testimony before the House Financial Services panel, Chair Yellen indicated that although there are signs of slower economic conditions, there was still room for economic growth. She cited a strong labor market and strong consumer and business spending as indicators of economic expansion. Analysts interpreted Chair Yellen’s testimony to indicate that the Fed would not likely raise its target federal funds rate in March.
Chair Yellen said that monetary policy is not on a “preset course”. Federal Reserve press releases consistently state that policy makers review current and developing domestic and global economic trends as part of any decision to raise rates. In view of this, Chair Yellen’s testimony did not cover what could happen if future economic developments influence Fed policy. Recent concerns over volatile financial markets caused by the weakening in China’s economy were cited as examples of “downside risks” that could impact the Fed’s monetary policy.
Readings for Consumer Sentiment suggest that consumers are also watching economic developments. February’s reading decreased to 90.7 as compared to January’s reading of 92.0.
This week’s scheduled economic events include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, federal reports on housing starts and building permits. FOMC minutes and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.
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February 1st, 2016 categories: Market Outlook
Last week’s economic events included S&P Case-Shiller’s home price indexes, reports on new and pending home sales and the Fed’s FOMC statement. The details:
Case-Shiller Reports Fast Paced Home Price Growth
According to S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes, U.S. home prices grew at their fastest pace in 16 months in November. Portland, Oregon led the charge with home prices increasing 11.10 percent year-over-year followed by San Francisco, California at 11.0 percent; Denver, Colorado posted a year-over-year gain of 10.90 percent. 14 cities posted home price gains while four cities posted declines in home prices and two cities posted no change on a month-to-month basis.
David M. Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Index Committee, noted that slumping oil prices and a strong dollar were posing challenges to domestic and international homebuyers. In spite of high demand, the supply of available homes continued to drive home prices up in most cities in the S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index.
In related news, the Commerce Department reported that sales of new homes jumped to a year-over-year reading of 544,000 new home sales as compared to November’s upwardly revised reading of 491,000 new homes sold and expectations of a year-over-year reading of 506,000 new homes sold as of December. The December 2015 reading was 9.90 percent higher than for December 2014.
Analysts cited a shortage of new homes for driving sales; builders are facing obstacles in hiring and finding suitable land for development. Some builders were said to be targeting high-end buyers which leaves a shortage of homes available for first-time and mid-range home buyers.
The National Association of Realtors® reported a minor gain in pending home sales in December. Pending home sales gauge future closings and mortgage activity. December’s pending sales reading was higher by 0.10 percent month-to-month and posted a year-over-year gain of 4.50 percent. December’s gain represented the 16th consecutive monthly gain for pending home sales. Analysts had expected a month-to-month gain of 1 percent, but high demand and a slim supply of affordable homes are leaving would-be buyers on the sidelines.
Fed Holds Off on Raising Rate; Mortgage Rates Lower
The Federal Reserve announced its decision not to raise its target federal funds rate on Wednesday; Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates on Thursday. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by two basis points to 3.79 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell 3 basis points to 3.07 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage were lower by one basis point at 2.90 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.6, 0.5 and 0.5 percent respectively.
This week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on construction spending, ADP payrolls, Non-Farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate.
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For our Chantilly friends and beyond.
Last week’s scheduled economic reports included the NAHB Housing Market Index, Housing Starts, FOMC statement and Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s press conference. In addition to weekly reports on jobless claims and mortgage rates, inflation reports were also released.
Builder Confidence Slips, Housing Starts Increase
According to the NAHB / Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for December, home builder confidence slipped by one point to a reading of 61 as compared to an expected reading of 63 and November’s reading of 62. December’s reading was three points higher year-over-year. Readings over 50 indicate that more builders than fewer are confident about housing market conditions. December’s confidence reading remained higher than 2015’s average reading of 59.
Components used in comprising the NAHB HMI also slipped in December. Builder confidence in current market conditions fell one point to a reading of 66; the six months sales outlook fell two points to 67 and the reading for buyer foot traffic in new developments also decreased by two points to a reading of 46. The reading for buyer foot traffic has consistently remained below the neutral benchmark of 50 since the housing bubble ended.
While builder confidence eased, housing starts rose in November with 1.17 million starts reported. Analysts expected a reading of 1.14 million starts based on October’s reading of 1.06 million housing starts. During much of 2015, demand for homes accelerated due to slim inventories of available homes; new construction is seen as essential to easing demand.
Fed Raises Interest Rates, Mortgage Rates Higher
The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve raised its target federal funds rate from a range of 0.00 to 0.25 percent to a range of 0.25 percent to 0.50 percent. While the Fed’s increase is expected to affect consumer lending rates for auto loans and credit cards more than mortgages, Freddie Mac reported that rates for fixed rate home loans rose last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 3.95 percent and the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage increased by three basis points to 3.22 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.03 percent. Discount points were unchanged for fixed rate mortgages at 0.60 percent and 0.50 percent respectively while average points for a 5//1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped to an average of 0.40 percent.
Weekly jobless claims fell to 271,000 new claims against expectations of 275,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 282,000 new claims.
Next week’s economic reports include reports on new and existing home sales, consumer spending and consumer sentiment. Weekly jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates report will also be released as scheduled. No reports will be released on Friday due to the Christmas holiday.
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October 19th, 2015 categories: Market Outlook
Last week’s economic reports included Consumer Price Index and Core index for September, the minutes of the FOMC meeting held September 15 and 17, and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. The details:
FOMC Minutes Hint at Looming Rate Hike as Inflation Lags
Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting held in September suggest that while Fed policy makers have reservations about low inflation and labor markets, they may go ahead and raise the target federal funds rate from its current range of 0.00 to 0.25 percent. When the fed does raise rates, consumers can expect to see higher mortgage rates as well as loan rates on products such as personal loans and credit cards. FOMC members also expressed concerns over lagging inflation below the FOMC benchmark of 2.00 percent.
September’s Core Consumer Price Index report showed a slight reduction as consumer prices fell by -0.20 percent which matched analyst’s expectations and was lower than August’s reading of -0.10 percent. The reduction in consumer prices was caused by falling fuel prices. The Core Consumer Price Index for September, which does not include readings for energy or food prices, rose by -0.20 percent which exceeded predictions of an 0.10 percent increase and August’s reading of +0.10 percent.
Mortgage Rates Rise as New Jobless Claims Fall
Freddie Mac reported that fixed mortgage rates rose while rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage held steady last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by six basis points to 3.82 percent while the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by four basis points to 3.03 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 2.88 percent. Average discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
New jobless claims fell to 255,000 against expectations of 270,000 and the prior week’ reading of 262,000 new claims. The four-week rolling average of new claims fell by 2250 new jobless claims and reached its lowest level since 1973.
In other jobs-related news, job openings fell from July’s reading of 5.70 million to 5.40 million in August. The Labor Department also reported that the hiring rate and quit rates held steady at 3.60 percent and 1.90 percent.
This week’s scheduled economic news releases include The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, September Housing Starts and Existing Home Sales in addition to usual weekly reports on mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims.
By the way, if you are considering either buying or selling a home in the Chantilly or surrounding area, please know we how we can help. We are always here for you. Contact us .
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August 10th, 2015 categories: Market Outlook
This week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on construction spending, a survey of senior loan officers, and reports on labor markets including ADP private sector jobs, the federal government’s reports on non-farm payrolls, core inflation and the national unemployment rate.
Construction Spending Slows, Loan Officers Survey Suggests Growing Confidence
Construction spending fell in June after the May reading was revised upward to 1.89 percent from the original reading of 0.90 percent. Spending for residential construction rose by 0.40 percent, while non-residential construction spending remained flat. The seasonally-adjusted annual outlay for construction was $1.06 billion in June.
Analysts continue to note a trend toward construction of smaller residential units including condominiums and apartments, with an emphasis on rental properties. This supports reports that would-be homebuyers are taking a wait-and-see stance to see how factors including rising home prices, fluctuating mortgage rates and labor market conditions perform.
According to a survey of senior loan officers conducted by the Federal Reserve, mortgage lenders reported that mortgage applications increased during the second quarter and indicating that financial constraints on consumers may be easing. According to the survey of 71 domestic banks and 23 foreign-owned banks, 44 percent of respondents reported moderate increases in loan applications, while only 5 percent of survey participants reported fewer loan applications.
Some banks surveyed reported easing mortgage approval standards, but fewer lenders eased standards than in the first quarter. Further supporting growing confidence among lenders, the Fed survey also reported that large banks were easing consumer credit standards for auto loans and credit cards.
Mortgage Rates Fall, Jobless Claims Rise
Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates fell across the board last week with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage lower by seven basis points to 3.91 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.13 percent, and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 2.95 percent. Discount points for all loan types were unchanged at 0.60 percent for 30 and 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
Weekly jobless claims rose from the prior week’s reading of 268,000 new claims to 270,000 new claims, which matched analysts’ expectations. In other labor-related news, the government reported a national unemployment rate of 5.30 percent in July; this was unchanged from June’s reading.
The ADP employment report for July showed fewer jobs were available in the private sector. June’s reading showed that private sector jobs grew by 229,000 jobs; July’s reading fell to 185,000 private sector jobs. According to July’s Non-farm Payrolls report, 215,000 new jobs were added in July as compared to expectations of 220,000 jobs added and June’s reading of 231,000 new jobs added.
The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is closely monitoring job growth and inflation rates as it contemplates raising the target federal funds rate. Core inflation grew by 0.10 percent in June; which was consistent with May’s reading and expectations. The FOMC recently cited the committee’s concerns about labor markets and lagging inflation. The Fed has set an annual growth rate of 1.65 percent for inflation for the medium term; this benchmark is part of what the Fed will consider in any decision to raise rates.
This week’s scheduled economic reports include reports on retail sales and consumer sentiment in addition to usual weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.
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August 3rd, 2015 categories: Market Outlook
Last week’s scheduled economic reports included the Case-Shiller 20 and 20-City Index reports, pending home sales data released by the National Association of Realtors® and the scheduled post-meeting statement of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee.
Case-Shiller: Home Prices Growing at Normal Pace
The Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price index for May reported that year-over-year home prices grew by 4.40 percent year-over-year. S & P Index Committee Chair David M Blitzer said that home prices are increasing gradually by four to five percent a year as compared to double-digit percentages seen in 2013. Mr. Blitzer said that home price growth is expected to slow in the next couple of years as home prices have been growing at approximately twice the rate of wage growth and inflation, a situation that is not seen as sustainable.
Denver, Colorado led the cities included in the 20-City Index with a 10 percent year-over-year growth rate for home prices. San Francisco, California followed closely with a year-over-year gain of 9.70 percent and Dallas Texas posted a year-over-year gain of 8.40 percent.
Fastest month-to-month home price growth in May was tied by Boston, Massachusetts, Cleveland, Ohio and Las Vegas, Nevada with each posting a monthly gain of 1.50 percent. May home prices remain about 13 percent below a 2006 housing bubble peak.
Pending Home Sales Down From Nine-Year Peak
According to the National Association of Realtors®, pending home sales dropped by 1.80 percent in June as compared to May’s reading. The index reading for June home sales was 110.3 as compared to May’s index reading of 112.3. This indicates that upcoming closings could slow; June’s reading represented the first decrease in pending home sales in six months. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors®, cited would-be buyers’ decisions about whether to hold out for more homes available or to buy sooner than later will affect future readings for pending home sales.
Fed Not Ready to Raise Rates, Mortgage Rates Fall
The Fed’s FOMC statement at the conclusion of its meeting on Wednesday clearly indicated that Fed policymakers remain concerned about economic conditions and are not prepared to raise the federal funds rate yet. The FOMC statement did not provide any prospective dates for raising the target federal funds rate, which is currently at 0.00 to 0.25 percent, but the Fed continues to watch employment figures and the inflation rate.
Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates fell last week, likely on news of the Fed’s decision not to raise rates. Average mortgage rates fell across the board with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropping by six basis points to 3.98 percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by four basis points to 3.17 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 2.95 percent. Average discount points remained the same for fixed rate mortgages at 0.60 percent and fell from 0.50 percent to 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
This week’s economic calendar includes reports on consumer spending, core inflation and consumer spending. July readings on Non-Farm Payrolls and the national unemployment rate will also be released along with regularly scheduled weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates.
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July 30th, 2015 categories: Market Outlook
The stage was set in high suspense for FOMC’s post-meeting announcement on Wednesday. As fall approaches, analysts and the media are looking for any sign of when and how much the Fed will raise its target federal funds rate. According to CNBC, some analysts were projecting two interest rate hikes before year end, but the truth of the matter remains unknown until the Federal Open Market Committee announces its intentions.
Meanwhile, reports of what Fed rate hikes will mean for consumers were released prior to the FOMC statement. Real estate analyst Mark Hanson said that a rate hike would “crush” housing markets, which continue to improve slowly in spite of the current 0.00 to 0.25 percent federal funds rate.
Last Friday’s report on June sales of new homes shows unpredictable progress in housing. Analysts estimated that new home sales would reach 550,000 units based on May’s reading of 517,000 new homes sold. June’s reading came in at 482,000 units sold.
FOMC Statement: Current Federal Funds Rate “Remains Appropriate”
The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserved announced as part of its post-meeting statement that it would not immediately increase the federal funds rate. The FOMC statement cited concerns over the inflation rate, which remains below the Fed’s goal of 2.00 percent. According to the statement, the FOMC will not move to raise the federal funds rate until the committee is “reasonably confident” that inflation will achieve the committee’s goal of 2.00 percent over the medium term.
No prospective dates for raising the target federal funds rate were given. The FOMC statement repeated language included in previous statements indicating that committee members anticipate that economic events could further postpone increases in the federal funds rate. The FOMC statement asserted that committee members continue to monitor domestic and global financial and economic developments as part of the decision-making process for raising the target federal funds rate.
FOMC members agreed that policy accommodation may be required “for some time” after the committee’s dual mandate of maximum employment and 2.00 percent inflation have been achieved. This suggests that FOMC members are not in a hurry to boost rates when economic uncertainty remains.
In terms of housing markets, the Fed’s decision not to raise rates likely caused a sigh of relief as rate increase would have caused consumer interest rates including mortgage rates to rise.
By the way, if you are considering buying a home in the Chantilly or surrounding area, please know we how we can help. We are always here for you. Contact us.
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July 13th, 2015 categories: Market Outlook
Last week’s scheduled economic events were few due to the Independence Day holiday. Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of mortgage rates brought good news as mortgage rates fell across the board. The Federal Reserve released the minutes of its most recent Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting and weekly jobless claims rose.
Job Openings Rise to Highest Level Since 2000
The Labor Department reported that U.S. job openings rose from April’s reading of 5.33 million to 5.36 million job openings in May. This was the highest reading for job openings since the report’s inception in 2000. Private sector job openings rose to 4.85 million, an increase of 16 percent. Government jobs rose increased by 511,000 open jobs from April’s reading of 430,000 job openings. Based on the Labor Department’s report of 8.67 million unemployed workers, there were 1.60 job seekers for each job opening in May as compared to 2.10 job seekers for each job available in May 2014. There were approximately 1.80 job seekers for each job available when the recession started in December 2007.
FOMC Minutes: Fed Issues No Firm Date for Raising Rates
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve released the minutes of June’s FOMC meeting, during which nine of ten committee members indicated that they were not ready to raise the federal funds rate. One FOMC member indicated that they were willing to wait for another meeting or two to raise rates. While FOMC has hinted at the likelihood of raising rates this fall, committee members are wary of moving too quickly and cited developments in China and Greece as concerns that contributed to the committee’s current wait and see position. When the Fed does raise its target rates from 0.00 percent, consumers can expect higher mortgage and loan rates.
Freddie Mac: Mortgage Rates Fall, Jobless Claims Rise
Mortgage rates fizzled last week with Freddie Mac reporting average rates lower for all types of mortgages. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was four basis points lower at 4.04 percent and discount points unchanged at 0.60 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was also four basis points lower at 3.20 percent. Average discount points for a 15-year mortgage fell from 0.60 to 0.50 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by six basis points to 2.93 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.40 percent.
According to the Labor Department, weekly jobless claims rose to 297,000 new claims filed as compared to 282,000 new claims filed the previous week. There were no estimates for last week’s jobless claims due to the holiday.
This week’s scheduled economic reports include Retail Prices, Retail Prices Except Automotive and the NAHB Housing Market Index. The Commerce Department is set to release monthly readings for Housing Starts and Building Permits. In addition to Freddie Mac’s report on mortgage rates and the Labor Department’s report on new jobless claims, the University of Michigan will wrap up the week with its Consumer Sentiment report.
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The Federal Open Market Committee met today, and as most observers expected, it voted 9-to-1 to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged.
The press release that was issued by the FOMC noted the slower pace of economic recovery. Even though household spending is increasing, it is hampered by other factors, most notably the unemployment situation, tight credit, and the housing market.
Not a whole lot of optimism coming from the Fed but it does expect growth that will be “modest in the near-term”.
Some would argue that the recession is over, and that growth has resumed, but at a very slow pace.
On the positive side, the Fed did make mention of strengths in the economy:
- Growth is continuing on a national level
- Inflation levels remain very low
- Business spending is rising
No surprise that the Fed re-stated its intention to hold the Fed Funds Rate near zero percent “for an extended period”.
Since there were no surprises, the mortgage market’s reaction to the release has been neutral. Mortgage rates in Virginia seem to be unchanged as of today.
The FOMC’s next meeting is scheduled for November 2-3, 2010.
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