Last week’s economic news included readings on housing market conditions, housing starts, building permits issued, and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.
National Association of Home Builders Reports Record High Builder Confidence
The NAHB reported record high builder confidence in housing market conditions. The Housing Market Index had an index reading of 83 in September as compared to August’s reading of 78. Analysts said that this builder confidence reading was notable due to rising costs for building materials.
Component readings of the NAHB Housing Market Index also rose in September. Builder confidence in current single-family housing market conditions rose four points to an index reading of 88; builder confidence in housing market conditions in the next six months rose by six points to 84. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in single-family housing developments rose by nine points to a record index reading of 73.
Builder confidence readings over 50 reflect growing builder confidence in housing market conditions. March and April fell below 50 but rebounded as demand for larger suburban homes took hold as working from home increased. Record low mortgage rates are allowing home buyers to buy larger homes with more amenities. Robert Dietz, the chief economist for the NAHB, said that “Builders in other areas of the country have reported receiving calls from customers in high-density markets asking about relocating.”
Housing Starts and Building Permits Drop in August
The Commerce Department reported 1.42 million housing starts on a seasonally-adjusted basis in August as compared to July’s reading of 1.49 million housing starts. 1.47 million building permits were issued on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis;
Mortgage Rates Mixed, Jobless Claims Fall
Freddie Mac reported mixed changes in mortgage rates; rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.87 percent and rose by one basis point. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages were two basis points lower on average at 2.35 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 2.96 percent and were 15 basis points lower. Discount points averaged 0.80 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
Initial jobless claims fell to 860,000 from the prior week’s reading of 893,000 new claims filed. Ongoing jobless claims also fell; 12.63 million were filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 29.67 continuing jobless claims filed.
The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index also indicated economic growth with an index reading of 78.9 as compared to August’s reading of 74.1. Analysts expected am index reading of 75.9 for September.
What’s Ahead for the Week of September 21, 2020
This week’s scheduled economic readings include reports on new and existing home sales along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims.
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