Though March Existing Home Sales increased more than expected, up 5.1 percent for the month, they failed to reverse the 7+ percent drop in February. Closing out the first quarter of 2016, existing home sales were up 4.8 percent.
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The median existing home sales price was up a respectable 5 percent for the month to a year-over-year rate of plus 5.7 percent. The median existing home sales price was $222,7000, which is not far from last spring’s peak of the recovery ($230,000). Supply recovered slightly, up to 4.5 months from February’s 4.4 months.
In the March Housing Starts reports, new construction was slowing heading into the busiest buying season of the year. Housing starts fell 8.8 percent in the month and were well below the consensus range and low estimates. Permits were also down 7.7 percent.
Last week in the economy:
- The purchase sector of MBA Mortgage Applications was down 1 percent in the April 15 week. The refinance sector was up 3 percent. Year-over-year purchase applications have retreated to 17 percent, following the 30+ percent gains in March.
- Initial Jobless Claims fell 6,000 in the April 16 week to a lower-than-expected 247,000, the lowest level since 1973, according to Bloomberg.
- The April Housing Market Index by the National Association of Home Builders held unchanged at 58 for the third straight month. Though present sales dipped, the component leads the way in the mixed report. Overall, the report was positive but noted low traffic, especially first-time homebuyers.
- The FHFA House Price Index showed little increase for the month of February, up 0.4 percent. While it hit the consensus levels, it’s the softest price gain since August. Year-over-year, the price index fell back to 5.6 percent after holding steady at the 6.0 percent level.
- Bloomberg’s Consumer Comfort Index fell back to 42.9 in the April 17 week. The index had previously been fluctuating around the 44 level, indicating lessening confidence in income levels and job opportunities.
What’s on economic calendar for the week of April 25, 2016:
- Monday – New Home Sales
- Tuesday – Consumer Confidence
- Wednesday – MBA Mortgage Applications, Pending Home Sales Index & FOMC Meeting Announcement
- Thursday – Jobless Claims & GDP
- Friday – Consumer Sentiment
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