April 1st, 2019 10:53 AM by Roger Downward, Principal Broker
February saw New Home Sales grow 4.9%, reaching a 667,000 annual rate. The median price was measurably down from a year ago, along with mortgage rates, so it's no surprise that buyers are showing up.
Housing Starts didn't do so well, down 8.7%, to a 1.162 million annual rate. Yet 195,000 homes were authorized but not started, close to the largest number since 2007, and homes under construction stayed near a post-recession high.
Pending Home Sales also dipped in February, but only by a modest 1%, and that followed a healthy January bump. But home price gains keep shrinking, and purchase mortgage apps rose 6% for the week.
REVIEW OF LAST WEEK
MAKING HISTORY... Investors sent stock prices north, to close out an historic quarter. The S&P 500 rose 13.1%, its best three-month gain in nearly ten years. The market is a leading indicator of the economy, so this is good news.
With final Q4 GDP at 2.2%, some talked economic slowdown, yet GDP grew 3.0% in 2018, the fastest calendar year growth since 2005, and weekly initial jobless claims dropped by 5,000.
Those who fret about trade were frustrated by signs of progress in the U.S.-China negotiations and a lower-than-expected January trade deficit. Plus, Personal Income was up, and PCE inflation stayed well under the Fed's 2% target.
The week ended with the Dow UP 1.7%, to 25929; the S&P 500 UP 1.2%, to 2834; and the Nasdaq UP 1.1%, to 7729.
Bonds came under pressure, but many recovered. The 30YR FNMA 4.0% bond ended UP .02, to $102.83. In Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the national average 30-year fixed mortgage rate took the biggest drop in over 10 years. Remember, mortgage rates can be extremely volatile, so check with your mortgage professional for up-to-the-minute information.
DID YOU KNOW?... In January, the S&P Dow Jones Case-Shiller National Home Price Index rose 4.3%, two percentage points below its pace in January 2018.