Economic update for the week ending October 21, 2017

Stocks markets continue to rise – Indexes reach record highs for sixth straight week – U.S. stocks rose again this week, reaching record highs for the sixth week in a row. Market gains were attributed to additional third quarter company earnings that beat expectations. 20% of companies in the S&P 500, that have reported earnings for the third quarter, reported earnings growth of nearly 2%, and 76% of the companies have reported results above expectations. Disappointing earnings from GE, whose stock dropped sharply, were offset by across the board gains. Stocks also rallied after the Senate passed a 2018 budget resolution. We expect earnings to continue to rise at a solid pace through the remainder of the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the week at 23,328.63, up from 22,871.73 last week. It’s up 18% year-to-date. The S&P 500 closed the week at 2,575.21, up from its close last week of 2,563.17 The S&P is up 15% YTD. The NASDAQ closed the week at 6,629.05, up from its last week’s close of 6,605.80 It’s up 23.1% year-to-date. 

Bond yields higher this week – The 10-year Treasury bond closed the week at 2.39%, up from 2.28% last week. The 30-year treasury yield ended the week at 2.89%, up from 2.81% last week. Mortgage rates follow treasury bond yields so we watch bond yields carefully.

Mortgage Rates almost unchanged – The October 19, 2017 Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate average was 3.88%, down from 3.91% last week. The 15-year fixed was 3.19%, down from 3.21% last week. The 5-year ARM was 3.17%, down slightly from 3.16% last week. Rates rose late in the week so next week’s rates will be slightly higher. 

U.S. new housing starts drop 4.7% in September – Hurricane damaged region accounts for the drop – The Commerce Department reported that permits for new residential construction dropped 4.7% in September. Single-family housing starts dropped 4.6% from August. The September decline was attributed to hurricane damaged areas. Year-to-date housing starts are up 9.1% from the same period last year. Breaking out single-family housing, the hurricane damaged South posted a 15.3% decline in single-family housing starts in September. All other regions in the U.S. posted month-over-month gains in new single-family housing starts. Month-over-month housing starts are up 15.7% in the western region. Multi-family housing starts were down in almost every region. 

California existing home sales and prices continue to creep up in September – The California Association of Realtors reported that existing, single-family home sales totaled 436,920 in September on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate. That’s up 2.2 percent from August and 1.7 percent from last September. The statewide median home price was $555,410, down 1.8 percent from August and up 7.5 percent from September 2016. Statewide active listings continued to decline in September, dropping 11.2 percent from a year ago. The unsold inventory index in September represented a 3.2 month supply of homes for sale, down from a 3.5 month supply in September of 2017, yet up from 2.9 months in August. 

Have a great weekend!