Weekly Economic Review: April Housing Starts Surge

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/26/15 9:58 AM

Topics: Economy

Spring housing surged in April with housing starts and permits at one of the very highest and strongest numbers on record. Housing starts soared 20.2 percent in April and permits were up 10.1 percent; both components were much higher than expected. Single-family starts were up 16.7 percent and multi-family starts up 27.2 percent.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Housing Market Index dipped from April, reflecting a slowdown in present sales. A plus in the Housing Market Index data showed a 1-point gain in future sales, which is well-ahead of other components of the Housing Market Index reports. Regionally, the South is ahead with a 57 for the 3-month composite average, followed by the Midwest and West at 55.

Existing Home Sales are not living up to spring expectations and were down 3.3 percent in April. Three of four regions show contractions in April, but total sales are still up 6.1 percent year-over-year.

Minutes from the Fed's April meeting reflected that more officials did not see a rate hike in the cards at the June FOMC meeting than those who did. According to the minutes, economic conditions were not likely to justify at June rate hike.

Last week in the economy:

  • Mortgage rates (the national average) increased 0.03% (3 basis points).
  • The S&P 500 began the week at 2,119 increasing 0.15% and ended the week at 2,126.
  • The Housing Market Index fell 2 points from April to 54, below the low-end Econoday forecast.
  • The purchase index of MBA Mortgage Applications fell 4% in the May 15 week, though applications are still up 11% year-over-year. Refinancing applications edged 0.3 percent higher.
  • Initial Jobless Claims edged up slightly in the May 16 week by 10,000, following 3 straight weeks in the low- to mid-260,000 range. This is the lowest trend for initial jobless claims in 15 years.
  • The Consumer Price Index increased only 0.1 percent in April.

What's on the economic calendar for the week of May 25, 2015:

  • Tuesday: Consumer Confidence and New Home Sales will be released.
  • Wednesday: MBA Mortgage Applications data will be updated.
  • Thursday: Jobless Claims and Pending Home Sales will be released.
  • Friday: Consumer Sentiment will be updated.

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