Economic update for the week ending November 22, 2014
Another record-breaking week for US stocks – The US stock markets posted their fifth straight week of gains with new highs, buoyed by positive economic news from Europe and China, and positive job gains at home. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the week at 17,810.06, up from last weeks closes of 17,634.74. The S&P 500 closed Friday at 2063.50, up from last Friday’s close of 2039.82. The NASDAQ closed at 4712.97; above last weeks close of 4688.54. The People’s Bank of China made a surprise interest rate cut on Friday, its first cut in 2 years. Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central bank said that the central bank is prepared to step up efforts to give the Eurozone a much-needed boost. Both of these announcements led to gains in worldwide markets.
Consumer Price Index- The Bureau of Labor Statics reported that prices remained flat in October. The year over year CPI increase showed the inflation rate at 1.7%, well below the Federal Reserve’s target rate for a healthy economy. The Fed released its minutes on November 19 from its October meeting. In the minutes it cautioned of “evidence of a possible downward shift in long-term inflation expectations.”
Treasury Bond Rates – Yield Curve Flattens to a 2 year low – The 10 year Treasury bond closed the week at 2.31% almost unchanged from last Friday’s close of 2.32%. The 30 year treasury yield (rate) was 3.02%, down slightly from last week’s 3.04%. The yield curve between the 2 year treasury and the 30 year treasury, which is the difference between the rates (spread), reached a 2 year low with a spread of 2.51%. It was 3.639% on November 20, 2013. This is due to inflation being below the Federal Reserve’s target rate. Expectations of inflation push up long-term rates, low inflation pulls them down. US bond yields are lower than many foreign countries making them very enticing to foreign investors. For example our 10 bond year yields 1.54% more than German 10 year bonds.
Mortgage Rates – The Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported that the 30 year fixed mortgage rate average for the week was 3.99% down from 4.01% last week. The 15 year fixed was also down at 3.17% from 3.2% last week.
California gains 41,500 non-farm jobs – The California Employment Development Department reported that non-farm payrolls increased in October by 41,500 jobs. This figure eclipsed the September gain of 14,200 jobs and was way above expectations, yet the California unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.3%. California recorded the highest monthly job gains in the country in October. The total job gains, according to the EDD, since the recovery began in February 2010 has been 1,446,600. The year over year increase was 319,500 jobs, a 2.1% increase. Of that increase Professional and business services posted the largest numerical increase adding 106,000 jobs, up 4.5%. Construction posted the largest percentage increase of 5.3% for the year, adding 34,000 jobs. Financial activities were the only sector to lose jobs and showed 4,700 fewer jobs than one year ago, a 0.6% decrease.
California Association of Realtors – CAR released its October sales figures last week. They stated that despite the lowest mortgage rates in 18 months sales in October remained unchanged from September. October sales were down 1.9% from the number of sales in October 2013 marking one full year in which the number of sales was below 400,000 units. The Median price decreased by 2.3% in October to $450,620 from September’s $461,370. The median price is the point in which half the homes sell for more and half the homes sell for less. They also reported that the higher priced markets remained stronger than other markets. Inventory levels slipped to a 3.8 month supply from a 4.2 month supply in September. There was a 3.3 month supply in October 2013. It must be noted that CAR figures do not include sales that were not reported to a MLS system.
Lower rates have led to more buyer demand. It seems like the number of multiple offer situations have increased. I would not be surprised to see month over month prices to show an increase after being flat the past few months. It takes a while for escrow to close so I am looking for this increase to be reported in the December and January closings. We will wait and see!
Have a great weekend!