Economic update for the month ending October 31, 2018

U.S. Employers added 250,000 new jobs in October:

Wages grow at fastest pace in almost 10 years – Unemployment remains at lowest rate since 1969 – The Department of Labor Statistics reported Friday that 250,000 new jobs were added in October. That eclipsed the 190,000 new jobs analysts had expected. Job growth has now hit a record of 97 straight months. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7%, the lowest national unemployment rate in 49 years. Average hourly wages were up 3.1% in October from last October. That was the largest year over gain in almost 10 years. 

California employers added 13,200 new jobs in September :

The California Employment Development Department reported that 13,200 new jobs were added in September. California has now added an average of 29,400 new jobs a month for 103 consecutive months. The state’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.1%, the lowest rate on record. 

U.S. stocks saw their largest monthly loss in 10 years in October:

 Although most companies reported quarterly profits that beat or were in line with expectations, the few like Amazon, Square, Hasbro, Domingo’s  and others  that reported disappointing results scared investors. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the month at 25,115.76, down from 26,458.31. last month. The S&P 500 closed the month at 2,711.74, down from 2,913.98 on September 30The NASDAQ closed the month at 7,305.90, down from 8,046.35 last month.   

Treasury Bond Yields rise:

The 10-year treasury bond closed the month yielding 3.05%, up from 2.86% on August 31, 2018. The 30-year treasury bond yield ended the month at 3.19%, up from 3.02% at the end of August. 

Mortgage rates higher in October:

 The November 1, 2018 Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate average was 4.83%, up from 4.72% on September 27, 2018The 15-year fixed was 4.23%, up  from 4.16% on September 27.  The 5-year ARM was 4.04%, up from 3.97% at the end of September. 

GDP up 3.5% in third quarter:

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis announced that the first reading of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 3.5% in the third quarter of 2018.   That beat expectations of a 3.4% rise, but was well below the 4.2% increase registered in the second quarter of 2018. The report also said that The PCE price index, a key indicator of inflation, rose at a 1.6% annual rate in the quarter. That was well below the 2.2% annual increase analysts forecasted. Consumer spending, which accounts for about two thirds of the U.S. economy grew by 4% in the third quarter. That marked the largest increase since the fourth quarter of 2014. 

September Nationwide Existing Home Sales:

 Data released this week from The National Association of Realtors showed that total existing home sales fell again in September. The number of existing homes sold in September fell 3.4% from August, and are down  4.1%  from one year ago. The median price paid for a home in The U.S. was up 4.2% from last September. That marked the 79th straight month of year over increases. The unsold inventory index is at a 4.4 month supply, up slightly form a 4.2 month supply one year ago. 

September California Existing Home Sales:

The California Association of Realtors reported that existing single family home sales totaled 382,550 in September on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate. That was down 4.3% from August and down a staggering 12.4% from last September, when sales totaled 436,920 on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate. The median price paid for a home in California was $587,850, up 4.2% from September 2017.On a more regional level the median price increased 4.7% in Los Angeles County10.6% in Ventura County, and 3.3% in Orange County from one year ago. Inventory levels continued to rise after hitting historic lows in 2017. The unsold inventory index in California stood at a 4.2 month supply in September, up from a 3.3 month supply in September 2017. Inventory levels have now increased for 6 straight months and are up 20.4% from one year ago. Listings are at the highest level in 31 monthsLos Angeles County has a 4.4 month supply, up from a 3.1 month supply last September. Orange County has a 4.3 month supply,  up  from 3.1 months last September. Ventura County had a 6.3 month supply of homes, up from a 4.7 month supply one year ago. 

Syd Leibovitch 
Rodeo Realty Inc.
9171 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 321
Beverly Hills, California 90210
CA DRE # 00858724

Economic Update For January 2014 With Syd Leibovitch

economicupdate01312014January saw some corrections in the stock market with the S&P 500 and the Dow posting their biggest monthly percentage decline since May 2012. This was the first January since 2010 with a decline.

The Dow closed out the month at 15,698.85  down -5.3% from last month’s close of 16,576.60 and down -1.14% from last week’s close of 15,879.11.

The Nasdaq fared a bit better, ended the month at 4,103.88 down -1.7% from last month’s close of 4,166.66 and down -0.59% from last week’s 4,128.17 close.

The S&P 500 ended the month at 1,782.59, a drop of -3.56% from last month’s 1,848.36 close and down -0.43% from last week’s 1,790.29 close.

Interest rates dropped during the month. The Freddie Mac Weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed that the 30-year-fixed rate dropped to 4.32% from 4.39% last week and 4.53% at the start of the month.  The 15-year-fixed fell to 3.40% from last week’s 3.44% and 3.55% at the start of the month. A year ago the 30-year fixed was at 3.53% and the 15-year was at 2.81%.

Over the course of January 10-year Treasury note yield rate fell after starting the month at 3.0%  It closed out the month at 2.67%  after ending last week at 2.75%. It was 2.02% a year ago.

Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate fell to 9.2% in December down from 9.5% in November and 10.3% in December 2012. This is its lowest point in more than five years. The state rate is 8.3% and the national rate was 6.7% in December.

Consumer confidence has risen again. The Conference Board reported that the consumer confidence index increased to 80.7 this month from a downwardly revised 77.5 in December beating economists’ estimates of a 79 reading. The index is now higher than it was in September before the confidence-eroding government shutdown and is at its highest level since August. However the consumer sentiment gauge from the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters registered a final reading of 81.2 in January, down from December’s 82.5. In December, consumer spending rose a seasonally adjusted 0.4% which was above analysts’ expectations of a 0.2% gain. Economists are predicting consumer spending will rise at least 2% over the course of the year.

The Commerce Department reported that sales of new U.S. homes decreased -7% to a 414,000 annualized pace in December, lower than was predicted by economists who predicted a 455,000 pace last month. For all of 2013, demand was up 16.4% to 428,000. The median sales price of a new home rose 4.6%  from December 2012 to $270,200. New-housing demand has rebounded from a record-low 306,000 homes sold in 2011, the record peak was 1.28 million in 2005. I would attribute this to very low inventory which is also causing rapid price increases.

The latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index shows that the 20-city composite rose 13.7% year over year through November 2013 while declining -0.1% from the previous month. Nine out of 20 cities recorded positive  monthly returns  including Los Angeles which saw a 0.1% increase. It is predicted that while housing prices will continue to rise, the pace of the rise will be slower in 2014.

The National Association of Realtors reported that its Pending Home Sales Index dropped -8.7%last month to 92.4, the lowest level since October 2011. Contracts were down 8.8% from the December 2012 levels. It is believed that unusually harsh weather across the country caused the low numbers of potential buyers. The index in the West dropped 9.8%  in December to 85.7, and is 16.0%  below December 2012 and this is attributed to  the lack of inventory in the market.

As I wrote last week we are beginning to see another increase in prices and buyer demand. It appears that 2014 will be much like 2013. The question is: How high can prices go? That’s not a new question. We recently sold a home in Beverly Hills for $15 million that the buyer bought for $475,000 in 1976! A valley home that just sold for $630,000 was purchased for $98,000 in 1980. All my life, with the exception of a few down years every 20 years or so, I have been hearing the question: How high can prices go? The answer is: Who knows! Definitely they are going up. The question is how long. I’d expect these gains to begin to level in a year or so. Anyone who doesn’t buy now will wish in 6 months that they did!

California Association of Realtors Predicts A Strong Housing Market For 2014

House sold signThe California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) has released its forecast for 2014 and sees a continued improvement in the state’s housing market. The organization predicts fewer distressed as sales shifting toward primary home buyers with both sales and home prices posting further gains. The C.A.R. “2014 California Housing Market Forecast” shows sales gaining 3.2% percent next year to reach 444,000 units, up from the projected 2013 sales figure of 430,300 homes sold.  Sales in 2013 will be down 2.1% from the 439,400 existing, single-family homes sold in 2012.

“The housing market has improved over the past year, and we expect this trend to continue into 2014,” said C.A.R. President Don Faught.  “As the economy enters the fourth year of a modest recovery, we expect to see a strong demand for homeownership, as buyers who may have been competing with investors and facing an extreme shortage of available housing return from the sidelines.”

The C.A.R. forecast also projects growth in economy and job markets. It is predicted that the U.S. Gross Domestic Product will grow 2.8% in 2014, after a projected gain of 1.8% in 2013.  With nonfarm job growth of 1.9%  in California, the state’s unemployment rate should decrease to 8.3% in 2014 from 9% in 2013 and 10.5% in 2012. The prediction is that the average rate for 30-year fixed mortgage interest rates will rise to 5.3%. The California median home price is forecast to increase 6 percent to $432,800 in 2014, following a projected 28 percent increase in 2013 to $408,600.

C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young spoke on the changing market: “As the market continues to improve, more previously underwater homeowners will look toward selling, making housing inventory less scarce in 2014.  As a result of these factors, we’ll see home price increases moderate from the double-digit increases we saw for much of this year to mid-single digits in most of the state. The wildcards for 2014 include federal, fiscal, monetary and housing policies – such as the mortgage interest deduction and mortgage finance reform – as well as housing supply and the actions of the Federal Reserve, which will ensure a higher rate environment.”


Indicator 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013f 2014f
SFH Resales (000s)








% Change








Median Price ($000s)








% Change








30-Yr FRM








 1-Yr ARM








 f= forecast