Last week’s economic reporting included readings on housing starts and building permits issued, the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, and Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s Senate testimony. The Commerce Department reported on housing starts and building permits issued published, and a monthly reading on consumer sentiment was published. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.
Two bank failures instill fear in depositors
In the aftermath of two bank failures last week, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that “the banking system is sound” during testimony to the US Senate last Thursday. When asked if federal protection could be extended to deposit accounts exceeding $250,000, Secretary Yellen replied that such action would “require approval from super majorities of the Boards of the Federal Reserve, the FDIC.and consultation between the Treasury Secretary and the president to determine that failure to protect uninsured depositors would create system risk and significant economic and financial consequences.”
NAHB: home builder confidence in US housing market improves
The National Association of Home Builders reported that its Housing Market Index for March increased by two points to an index reading of 44. Home builders expected a reading of 40 and the February HMI reading was 42. Readings below 50 indicate that most home builders surveyed were not confident about current housing market conditions.
The Commerce Department reported that housing starts exceeded expectations in February with 1.45 million starts reported as compared to the expected reading of 1.31 million starts and January’s reading of 1.32 million starts. Building permits issued also rose in February with 1.52 million permits issued as compared to expectations of 1.34 million permits issued and January’s reading of 1.34 million building permits issued.
Mortgage rates, jobless claims fall
Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week as the rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell by 13 basis points to 6.60 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages fell by five basis points to an average rate of 5.90 percent.
Initial jobless claims were also lower with 192,000 first-time claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 212,000 claims filed. 1.68 million continuing jobless claims were filed as compared to 1.71 million ongoing claims filed in the previous week.
This week’s scheduled economic reporting includes readings on sales of new and previously-owned homes, the post-meeting statement from the Federal Open Market Committee, and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s post-meeting press conference. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be published.