Last week’s economic news included reporting on housing markets, housing starts, and building permits issued. Data on new and existing home sales were published along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims.
NAHB: Builder Confidence Ticks Up as Demand for Homes Holds Steady
The National Association of Home Builders reported a one-point gain in its Housing Market Index for September with an index reading of 76. Analysts expected no change based on August’s reading of 75. Component readings for the HMI were mixed; the index reading for builder confidence in current market conditions rose one point to 82. Builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months was unchanged at 81 and builder confidence in buyer traffic in new single-family housing developments rose two points to an index reading of 61.
Builders continue to face headwinds as materials costs and home prices continue to rise. Home prices present a challenge to would-be buyers who don’t want to pay inflated prices or cannot qualify for mortgages based on rapidly rising home prices. Persistent shortages of homes kept homebuilders busy, but shortages of building materials forced builders to pace construction according to materials availability.
Housing starts rose to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.62 million starts in August; analysts expected a pace of 1.55 million starts, which was unchanged from July’s housing starts. Building permits were issued at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 1.73 million permits, which surpassed the expected reading of 1.62 million permits issued and July’s reading of 1.63 million permits issued.
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Existing Home Sales Fall in August as New Home Sales Rise
The National Association of Realtors® reported fewer sales of previously-owned homes in August. 5.88 million homes were sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis as compared to July’s reading of 6.00 million pre-owned homes sold. Slim supplies of previously-owned homes for sale, rising home prices, and competition with cash buyers sidelined buyers who preferred to wait for less challenging housing market conditions.
Limited options in available pre-owned homes boosted new home sales in August. 740,000 new homes were sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis as compared to the expected reading of 720,000 new homes sold and July’s reading of 729,000 new homes sold.
Mortgage Rates Mixed, Jobless Claims Rise
Freddie Mac reported mixed readings for mortgage rates last week as average rates for fixed-rate mortgages rose and the average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages fell. Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by two points and averaged 2.88 percent. The average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by three basis points to 2.15 percent. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages fell by eight basis points to 2.43 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.60 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.30 percent.
New jobless claims rose to 351,000 initial claims filed from the previous week’s reading of 335,000 initial claims filed. 2.85 million continuing jobless claims were filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 2.71 million continuing claims filed.
This week’s scheduled economic reporting includes readings from S&P Case-Shiller on home price growth, pending home sales, and construction spending. The University of Michigan will release its monthly Consumer Sentiment Index and weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be published.