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Market Minute - June 10, 2019

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Housing/Real Estate Market 

CoreLogic’s national Home Price Index (HPI) reports a year-over-year home price appreciation of 3.6%: Moreover, while they expect home prices to slow down by 0.3% when compared to next month, they are forecasting a solid 4.7% on a year-over year by next April.

Americans’ sentiment towards homeownership upticks, despite slower growth in economy: Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) survey finds that Americans’ confidence in housing increased 3.7 points in May to 92.0. Not surprisingly, the “Good time to buy” component of the survey, which increased 13%, was one of the main factors driving the index near its highest level reported in May of last year.

A Harvard study finds drop in growth in spending on home improvements: According to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, in 29 out of the 49 cities studied, Americans will be holding off on remodeling their homes as spending growth showed a decline when compared to last year. In 22 cities, spending growth on remodeling is expected to his its lowest point in 3 years.

Macro Economy

The manufacturing index slipped to 52.1% in May, a two and a half year low: American manufactures reported the slowest growth Since October 2016. They reported having lower production, a decline in supplier deliveries, and escalating tariff concerns as factors affecting their growth.

Factory orders retracted in April after unexpected surge in March: Factory orders have fallen two out of the last 3 months this year following 4 months of either no growth or barely any at all. This is continuing to raise some concerns, as it is usually indicative of businesses’ outlook on the economy.

The service sector of the economy rebounded from a two-and-a-half-year low: Despite worries about trade tariffs and a shortage of skilled workers, the ISM non-manufacturing index measuring service-oriented companies showed signs of strength as it rose to 56.9% last month from a two-and-a-half-year low of 55.5% in April. The service side of the U.S. economy employs most Americans and therefore an increase in this index constitutes good news. However, the index is still weaker than it was a year ago.

Construction spending in April remained practically unchanged for the third consecutive month: The U.S. Census Bureau reported that the overall construction spending has been flat for the past three months, down 1.2% from a year ago and 2% down since its peak in May 2018, giving little signs of hope for a housing rebound or a cure to the home-building downturn.

U.S. trade deficit dips 2.1% in April, but in a sign of weakness: Report form U.S. Government show drop in both exports and imports, meanwhile the gap with China grew, and this is still not considering all the recent tariffs conundrum with China. Trump announced via Twitter on Friday, June 7, 2019, that the tariffs on Mexico are going to be suspended indefinitely, but we have yet to see what will happen with China.

The U.S. economy added 75,000 jobs in May, and previous months’ gains were revised lower: The trend in hiring appears to be downshifting as the U.S. BLS reports that employers have added an average of 161k jobs since the beginning of the year compared to 223k in 2018. Still, there are no signs of deterioration and unemployment remains unchanged at a 50-year low rate of 3.6%.

New applications for unemployment benefits were flat compared to the previous week: The more stable monthly average however, fell by 2,500 to 215,000 which is the lowest since late April. Supporting the theory that the U.S. labor market remains exceedingly strong by almost every measure.

American workers were more productive in Q1 of 2019, but not as much as initially reported: Upon revision, the U.S. BLS, announced that the productivity measure of workers in Q1 2019, was trimmed to 3.4% from 3.6%. The revised gain is still the biggest since 2014. This should lead to better wage growth in the coming quarters.

Total consumer credit increased $17.5 billion in April, the highest in 5 months: The Federal Reserve announced that consumer borrowing accelerated an annual growth rate of 5.2%, up from a 3.3% rate the prior month. However, American consumers are being more cautious when it comes to borrowing.

Real Estate Finance

Mortgage rates decline to their lowest level in nearly 2 years: The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage decreased for the sixth consecutive week. It averaged 3.82% down from 3.99% the week prior and 4.54% a year ago. According to Freddie Mac, shopping around for an additional mortgage quote, can save a borrower an average of $1,500.

Would-be buyers might be responding to the low interest rate environment as mortgage applications are picking up: Mortgage loan application volume increased 1.5% on a seasonally adjusted basis from a  week earlier. The refinance index increased 6%, which might suggest that the low interest rate environment is also appealing to existing mortgage borrowers.

The share of American homeowners in negative equity fell 4.1% in the Q1 of 2019: Consistent with continuous home price gains, more homeowners saw their equity increase by 5.6% year-over-year, helping 2.2 million homeowners out of negative equity. According to CoreLogic’s Home Equity Report, the average homeowner gained $6,400 in home equity between Q1 2018 and Q1 of this year.

Past Market Minutes

June 3, 2019Weak home-price gains, falling sales, Americans cut back on spending, and mortgage applications decreasing
May 28, 2019 - Decline in sales, manufacturing growth slump, mortgage applications jump
May 20,2019 - California's housing market, although not surging ahead, is looking much less scary than it did during Q1
May 13, 2019 - Slow but upward trending price growth, widening trade deficit, mortgage applications slightly up
May 6, 2019 - Low home price appreciation, weak income growth, dropping mortgage rates
April 29, 2019 - Existing and new home sales, economic growth, rates up, mortgage applications down
April 22, 2019 - Moderate CA sales and price, slow start for spring building, rising rates 
April 15, 2019 - Optimistic homebuyers, new home purchase applications, mortgage rates
February 11, 2019 - Over-asking-price home sales, consumer credit, trade deficit, mortgage application
February 4, 2019 - Residential construction, Feds Funds Rate, new home sales
January 22, 2019 - Home sales, consumer sentiment, and mortgage rates
January 14, 2019 - Home prices, job growth, interest rates
December 24, 2018 - Home sales, builder sentiment, stock market volatility 
December 17, 2018 - Delinquencies and foreclosures, job reports, inflation
December 10, 2018 - Construction spending, unemployment, mortgage applications
December 3, 2018 - Loan limits, national pending, gross domestic product, home delinquencies
October 29, 2018 - National pending, gross domestic product, mortgage applications
October 15, 2018 -  Construction spending, stock market, mortgage applications
October 1, 2018 - Revised permits, Chicago's fed, mortgage applications

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