Last week’s economic news included readings on Case-Shiller Home Prices Indices, new and pending home sales. Weekly readings on new jobless claims and average mortgage rates were also released. Case-Shiller reported that home prices rose by 0.20 percent from January to February with a year-over- year growth rate of 5.80 percent.
Western cities continued to post the fastest growth rates for home prices with Seattle, Washington topping annual home price growth rates at 12.20 percent; Portland, Oregon followed with a year-over-year home price growth rate of 9.70 percent. Dallas, Texas posted the third fastest growth rate for home prices with year-over-year growth in home prices at 8.80 percent. Dallas replaced Denver, Colorado for third place in the 20-City Home Price Index. 15 of 20 cities tracked in the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index posted higher year-over-year gains in February than for January 2017.
New Home Sales Rise as Pending Home Sales Dip
New home sales rose to 621,000 sales in March; analysts expected a reading of 580,000 new homes sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis based on January’s reading of 587,000 new home sales. Sales of new homes are important due to months of high demand for homes coupled with low inventories of homes for sale. Sales of new homes can indicate future readings on builder confidence and housing starts, but there are no definite connections between new home sales, builder confidence in housing market conditions and housing starts.
Pending home sales dipped in March with a month-to-month reading of -0.80 percent as compared to February’s seasonally adjusted annual reading of 5.50 percent. Pending sales are home sales for which sales contracts are signed but have not been closed. Pending home sales are an indicator of future completed sales and can be impacted by factors including fluctuating mortgage rates and regulatory influences on mortgage lending and mortgage approval requirements.
Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise
Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was six basis points higher at 4.03 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was four basis points higher at 3.27 percent. Mortgage rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 3.12 percent which was two basis points higher than for the previous week. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and averaged 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages
New jobless claims rose to 257,000 last week as compared to expectations of 245,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 243,000. Analysts said that the spike appeared to be localized in New York State and would likely resolve soon.
This week’s economic readings include ADP and Non-Farm Payrolls, national unemployment rate and readings on inflation. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Fed will issue its customary post-meeting announcement on Wednesday; this announcement is expected to reveal the Fed’s next move on interest rates. Weekly readings on new jobless claims and mortgage rates will also be released.