Economic update for the week ending May 14, 2016

Stocks drop again this week – Stocks dropped again this week as a new round of first quarter corporate earnings reports showed consumers pulled back sharply on purchases. Retail sales were particularly weak, as companies revised their outlooks downward for the remainder of the year. Late Friday the Commerce Department released April retail sales figures which showed that sales rebounded. It will be interesting to see how this affects the opening of the market on Monday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the week at 17,535.32, down from 17,740.63 last week. The S&P 500 closed the week at 2,046.61, down from 2,057.41 last week. The NASDAQ closed Friday at 4,717.68, down from 4,736.16 last week. 

Bond yields lower again this week – The 10 year U.S. Treasury bond closed Friday yielding 1.71%, down from 1.79% last week. The 30 year U.S. Treasury bond closed Friday yielding 2.55%, also lower than 2.62% last week. Mortgage rates follow bond yields so we watch bonds carefully. 

Mortgage rates drop to 3 year low – The Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey released on May 12, 2016 showed that average mortgage rates from lenders surveyed for the most popular mortgage products were as follows: The 30-year fixed rate average was 3.57%. The 15-year fixed average rate was 2.81%. The 5/1 ARM average rate was 2.78%.

Retail sales surge in April – The Commerce Department reported that U.S. retail sales recorded their biggest increase in a year as consumers stepped up purchases of automobiles and other goods in April. This report suggested that the economy may be gaining momentum after a disappointing first quarter. Retail sales surged 1.3% in April. It’s largest gain since March 2015. Coming just days after Macy’s and Nordstrom’s reported poor first quarter sales, this report suggests that fear of consumer spending slowing sharply may have been over exaggerated. 

Homes more affordable in the first quarter – The California Association of Realtors reported that housing affordability in the state improved in the first quarter. Strong wage growth, lower interest rates and leveling home prices pushes housing affordability higher. According to C.A.R. 34% of California households could afford to purchase a $465,280 median priced home. The income required to purchase a median priced home was $92,571. This was up from the fourth quarter of 2015 when only 30% of households could afford to purchase a median priced home. Condos and town-homes were even more affordable with 41% of households able to afford a condo or town-home. The income needed to purchase the median priced condo or town-home was $77,575.

Have a great weekend!