Economic update for the week ending September 23, 2017

Stocks hit record highs again this week – Stocks were slightly higher this week following large gains the previous week. The Federal Reserve announced that it would begin its balance sheet normalization program next month. They will slowly sell off bonds and mortgage securities they purchased during the recession to help the housing market, lower long term rates, and add liquidity to the economy. They also announced that they would keep the federal funds rate between 1% and 1.25%, which was good news to investors. They said that while the labor market’s strong inflation is below 2%, which is lower than the Fed target rate. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the week at 22,349.59, up from 22,268.34 last week. It’s up 13.1% year-to-date. The S&P 500 closed the week at 2,50.22, up from its close last week of 2,500.23. The S&P is up 11.8% YTD. The NASDAQ closed the week at 6,426.22, down slightly from its all time high at last week’s close of 6,448.37. It’s up 19.4% year-to-date. 

Bond yields higher this week – The 10-year Treasury bond closed the week at 2.26%, up from 2.20% last week. The 30-year treasury yield ended the week at 2.80%, up from 2.77% last week. Mortgage rates follow treasury bond yields so we watch bond yields carefully.

Mortgage Rates rise this week – The September 21, 2017 Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate average was 3.83%, up from 3.78% last week. The 15-year fixed was 3.13%, up from 3.08% last week. The 5-year ARM was 3.17%, up from 3.13% last week. Rates were a little higher at the end of the week so next week’s survey rates could be higher. 

California home sales and prices continue to rise in August – The California Association of Realtors released its August Sales and Price Report. Despite tight inventory existing, single family home sales totaled 427,630 in August on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate. That represented a 1.5% increase month-over-month from July and a 1.3% increase from last August. The Los Angeles region registered a 4.4% gain in the number of sales year-over-year. The median price paid for a home in California was $565,330, up 2.9% from July and 7.2% from August 2016. C.A.R.’s Unsold Inventory Index fell to a 2.9 month supply of housing in August, down from 3.2 months in July, as there were too few new listings to keep up with strong sales growth. 

Have a great weekend!