Economic update for the week ending August 27, 2016

Stocks lower as investors grow cautious of higher rates – Hints of future interest rate increases by Federal Reserve committee members throughout the week, and an official statement Friday by Fed Chairperson, Janet Yellen that conditions have improved opening a path to higher rates investors were more cautious. Some late earnings reported this week by retailers, like The Gap were below expectations. This followed mostly positive corporate earnings reported earlier in the month. Oil prices also dropped this week after rising last week, and healthcare stocks slipped. Markets are still just below all-time highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the week at 18,395.40 down from 18,552.57 last Friday. The S&P 500 closed the week at 2,169.04, down from 2,183.87 last week. The NASDAQ closed the week at 5,218.92, down from last week’s close of 5,238.38. 

Bond yields slightly higher – The 10 year U.S. Treasury bond yield closed the week at 1.62%, up from 1.58% last Friday. The 30-year U.S. Treasury bond closed at 2.29%, unchanged from 2.29% last week. Mortgage rates follow bond yields so we watch bond yields closely.

Mortgage rates unchanged – still near record lows – The Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey released on August 25, 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 3.43%. The 15-year fixed average rate was 2.74%. The 5/1 ARM average rate was 2.75%.

Pending home sales rise in July – The California Association of Realtors announced that statewide pending home sales increased 3.5% in July over last July’s seasonally adjusted annualized rate. Month over month, July’s pending home sales were up 3% from June’s figures. After June and July’s increased rate of new signed real estate purchase contracts it is expected that closed existing sales will increase in the coming months as those homes close escrow. July’s closed sales were disappointing as low inventories caused closed sales to decline after hitting multi year high closed existing sales numbers in June. 

Nationwide existing home sales slowed by low inventory levels – The National Association of Realtors reported that existing home sales slowed in July after hitting the highest levels in many years in June. July’s slowdown was attributed to extremely low inventories of single family existing homes, which include single family homes, town homes, condominiums, co-ops. Sales fell 3.2% from June’s figures and year over year close sales declined 1.6% from last July. Only the western states region had an increase in closed sales. While unsold inventory inched up 0.9% from June the number of existing homes for sale nationwide are still 5.8% below last July’s number. 32% of all sales were purchased by first time buyers, up from 28% one year ago. All-cash transactions accounted for 21% of all sales, down from 23% one year ago. 

New home sales hit highest pace in nearly a decade – The Commerce Department reported that sales of new homes surged in July to the highest level since October 2007. July’s new home sales were up 12.4% from June and 31.3% from last July. That’s a number that stunned experts; however, the number of new homes being completed have risen significantly as home-builders are full production. 

Have a great weekend!