Weekly Economic Review: June Housing Starts Near Peak Expectations

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/19/15 11:40 AM

Topics: Economy

Focus turned from Greek's debt crisis to the release of important U.S. economic data last week. Major retail sales data was weaker than expected in the month of June, causing mortgage rates to end the week a little lower. 

Economic_Update_7-19-15

Image courtesy of jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Housing Market Index data was unchanged, holding steady at 60 but signaling substantial strength for the new home market. This is the strongest reading since November 2005. Future sales, at 71, led the report with present sales right behind at 66.

Homebuyer traffic was down 1 point in the month and reflected a lack of first-time buyers, whom boosted the May housing market. All regions showed growth in June, led by the West, followed by the South, Midwest and Northeast.

Housing starts came in near peak expectations, up 9.8 percent in June at a 1.174 million annual rate. Multi-family components surged while the single-family components dropped 0.9 percent. The unusual 29.4 percent rise in multi-family units reflects increasingly high levels of rent, according to Bloomberg Business.

Though the single-family component was not as strong in June, a 0.9 percent rise in permits points to a strong second-half of activity for the new home sector.

Last week in the economy:

  • Mortgage rates (the national average) fell 0.05% (5 basis points).
  • The S&P 500 increased 2.43%, ending the week at 2,127.
  • The purchase index of MBA Mortgage Applications was volatile in the July 10 week, plunging 8 percent after a 7 percent spike the week before. The refinance index rose 4 percent.
  • Initial Jobless Claims fell 15,000 in the July 11 week to 281,000. The 4-week average increased more than 5,000 above the previous month's comparison, which is not a good indication for the July employment report.
  • June Retail Sales came in well below expectations, falling 0.3 percent, despite strong levels of consumer confidence.
  • Consumer inflation was up in June an as-expected 0.3 percent.
  • Consumer Sentiment has softened this month to 93.3, below Econoday's low estimate of 94.5.

What's on the economic calendar for the week of July 20, 2015:

Wednesday: MBA Mortgage Applications, FHFA House Price Index, and Existing Home Sales will be updated.
Thursday: Jobless Claims will be released.
Friday: New Home Sales data will be released.
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