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Although last week’s economic calendar was cut short by the Thanksgiving holiday, several housing-related reports were released.
The FHFA reported third quarter results for Housing Market Index and the Commerce Department reported on new home sales for October.
Freddie Mac released its weekly report on mortgage rates and data on new weekly jobless claims.
FHFA, Commerce Department report Gains for Home Prices, New Home Sales
Home prices for mortgages associated with mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac increased 1.30 percent during the quarter ended September 30. This was the 17th consecutive seasonally adjusted quarterly increases for home prices based on sale-only transactions. FHFA home prices rose by 0.80 percent from the second to third quarter of 2015 and rose by 5.70 percent from third quarter 2014 to third quarter 2015 readings.
New home sales rose by a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 10.70 percent to 495,000 sales based on a downward trend revised September reading of 447,000 new home sales.
New home sales results were mixed according to the Commerce Department. Sales of newly built homes rose by an astounding 135.30 percent in the Northeast and increased by 8.90 percent in the South and by 5.30 percent in the Midwest. Sales of new homes declined in the West with a reading of -0.90 percent.
Home shoppers received good news as the median price of a new home fell 6 percent to $281,500. Inventory of new homes increased to its highest level since 2010. Higher inventory could ease demand and rapidly rising home prices associated with low supplies of new homes for sale.
Mortgage Rates Mixed, Jobless Claims Lower
Average mortgage rates varied last week according to Freddie Mac. 30-year fixed mortgage rates were two basis points lower at 3.95 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.18 percent, and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was three basis points higher at 3.01 percent. Average discount points where 0.70 for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage and averaged 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
New jobless claims fell from the prior week’s reading of 272,000 new claims to 260,000 new claims. Analysts expected a reading of 270,000 new claims. The four week rolling average of new jobless claims was unchanged at 271,000 after an adjustment to the prior week’s average of 270,750 new claims to a weekly average of 271,000 claims filed over the previous four weeks.
This week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on construction spending along with Labor Department releases on the national unemployment rate and Nonfarm Payrolls. Freddie Mac’s report on mortgage rates and weekly data on new jobless claims will be released as usual.
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Last week’s economic events included reports the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Housing Starts and the release of minutes for the most recent meeting of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee.
NAHB: Builder Confidence in Housing Markets Dips
The National Association of Home Builders reported that builder confidence dropped to a reading of 62 as compared to October’s revised reading of 65. Any NAHB reading above 50 indicates that more builders are positive about market conditions than not. NAHB’s assessment of housing market conditions is based on readings for three aspects of current and future market conditions. November’s reading of 67 for current housing market conditions was three points lower than October’s reading of 70. Expectations for market conditions for sales of single family homes over the next six months fell by five points in November to a reading of 70. Builders’ sentiment about prospective buyer foot traffic in new single family developments rose by one point to 48.
Home builders started more new homes than at any time since September 2007; analysts cited wage growth and low unemployment figures along with high demand for homes as driving builder confidence in housing markets. Demand for homes continued to exceed homes available for purchase, which is a driving force for builder confidence.
NAHB Regional Builder Confidence Readings
Regional readings provide a snapshot of regional housing market conditions on a month-to-month bases and on a three month rolling average. The monthly readings for November were lower except for the Western region, which gained one point for a reading of 77. The Northeastern region held steady with a reading of 52; the Midwest’s reading also decreased by one point to 59 and builder confidence in the Southern region fell by five points to 62.
Monthly regional readings for home builder confidence can be volatile due to regional economic conditions; the NAHB provides a three-month rolling average for its four U.S. regions. In November, the Northeast region reported a reading of 50 which was three points higher than October’s reading. The Midwest region was unchanged from October’s reading of 60; the South also reported no change from its October reading of 65. The Western region posted an increase of 69 to 73 over the three months between August and November.
Housing Starts Lowest Since Spring Floods
According to the Commerce Department, housing starts fell by 11 percent to an annualized reading of 1.06 million in October. This was the lowest reading since last spring, when construction was adversely impacted by flooding. September’s reading was adjusted to 1.19 million starts. Meanwhile, building permits issued rose by 4.10 percent to an annual rate of 1.15 million starts in October.
While housing starts fell by 18.60 percent in the South, permits issued rose to their highest level since 2007. The South is the most active region for home construction and accounts for half of all new home construction in the U.S.
Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Lower
Mortgage rates fell across the board last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by one basis point to 3.97 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell two basis points to 3.18 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was five basis points lower at 3.03 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
New jobless claims also fell last week to a reading of 271,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 270,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 276,000 new claims filed. Lower jobless claims indicate further strengthening of labor markets, but seasonal hiring may have positively impacted the reading for new jobless claims.
Next week’s scheduled economic news releases include several housing reports. Existing Home Sales, the S&P Case-Shiller Housing Market Index, FHFA House Prices and New Home Sales will be posted along with regularly scheduled reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. There will be no economic reports released on Thursday or Friday due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
Last week’s scheduled economic news was sparse due to no scheduled releases on Monday and the Veterans Day Holiday on Wednesday.
A report on job openings was released on Thursday along with regularly scheduled weekly reports on jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s report on mortgage rates.
Mortgage Rates, Weekly Jobless Claims Rise
Mortgage rates rose last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose to 3.98 percent from last week’s reading of 3.87 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose to 3.20 percent from the prior week’s reading of 3.09 percent; the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was also higher at an average of 3.03 percent as compared to the prior week’s average rate of 2.96 percent. Discount points were unchanged for all three types of mortgages at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
New jobless claims rose last week to 276,000 claims filed against the expected reading of 268,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 276,000 new jobless claims filed. The Labor department reported 5.53 million job openings on September, which was the second highest reading since the inception of the job openings report in 2000.
The Labor Department also reported that the quits rate held steady at 1.90 percent for the sixth consecutive month. Fed Chair Janet Yellen has said that the Fed considers the quits rate an indicator of economic strength; if workers have enough confidence to quit their jobs for new jobs, this a strong economy. The quits rate has held steady for six months, which could signal to the Fed that the economy is not yet ready for a rise in interest rates that analysts expect to occur in December.
U.S. News recently cautioned that a combination of rising home prices and interest rates could quickly cool housing markets as first-time and moderate income buyers are priced out of the market and other would-be buyers find it difficult to qualify for the mortgages they need to finance home purchases. Recent hikes in mortgage rates are a likely response to the anticipated Fed rate hike in December.
Next week’s scheduled economic reports include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Housing Starts and minutes from the most recent meeting of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee. The minutes may provide additional insight into how Fed policymakers are approaching the decision about raising the target federal funds rate.
While life in Downtown Denver is elevated year-round, holidays are from the pages of a storybook.
When making your seasonal plans, we invite you to discover the magic of Winter in the City!
There is no better place to eat, shop, play and stay than Downtown Denver for the holidays.
Throughout the holiday season, Winter in the City poses many events that attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to our winter wonderland. Be sure to mark your calendar for events happening only in Downtown Denver!
Denver Christkindl Market November 20 – December 23
Skyline Park, 16th & Arapahoe
Open daily, hours vary
The German American Chamber of Commerce will host a Christmas market in the spirit of an age-old German tradition. Craftspeople and artisans from all over offer rare, imported products, and food vendors will be dishing out European fare. Grab a Brat and a Glühwein (spiced mulled wine) and warm up in the large holiday warming tent. Free music and dancing will be happening throughout the market. The calendar is packed with entertainment, including bands, choirs, dancing and much more! For more information, visit the website.
Southwest Rink at Skyline Park November 24 – February 15
Skyline Park, 16th & Arapahoe
Open Daily, hours vary
Ready. Set. Skate. Skyline Park is the place for fun this holiday season. Southwest Airlines and the Downtown Denver Partnership invite you and your family to join us for FREE skating at the Southwest Rink at Skyline Park, located at 16th & Arapahoe in Downtown Denver. Ice skating is free! You may bring your own skates or rent a pair for just $2. For more information, click here.
Grand Illumination November 27 6.00p
Throughout Downtown Denver
Join us for Downtown Denver’s festive holiday lighting ceremonies at Union Station and the City and County Building. In addition, thousands of lights at Skyline Park, D & F Tower and along the 16th Street Mall and 14th Street add even more magic to this special evening. This is a FREE public event. For more information, click here.
9NEWS Parade of Lights December 4 8.00p December 5 6.00p
Throughout Downtown Denver, starting at Colfax & Bannock
The 9NEWS Parade of Lights continues to be the signature event in Downtown Denver during the holidays. You won’t want to miss the sparkling lights, marching bands, giant balloons, dazzling floats and delightful characters as they take the streets of Downtown. Spectator viewing for the Parade is free all along the two-mile route and grandstand tickets are available in front of the City & County Building. For more information and to support the event, visit www.denverparadeoflights.com.
TubaChristmas December 20, 1.00p - 2.00p
Skyline Park, 17th & Arapahoe
Tap your toes to your favorite holiday tunes at the annual TubaChristmas concert in Skyline Park. Featuring 300 tuba players from all over the region, TubaChristmas is one of the most celebrated and longest-running holiday festivities in Colorado. For more information, click here.
New Year’s Eve Fireworks
December 31 9.00p & Midnight
Viewing along the 16th Street Mall
To welcome the arrival of 2016, the New Year’s Eve Fireworks Downtown will once again fill the skies twice during the evening. The first show, at 9.00p will entertain families and others looking for an early celebration, while the second show officially marks the start of the New Year at midnight. The two fireworks programs are identical.