The Housing Chronicles Blog

Friday, August 18, 2017

2Q 2017 service sector revenue up 3.2 percent from 1Q and 6.2 percent year-on-year

The estimate of U.S. selected services total revenue for the second calendar quarter of 2017 was $3,685.1 billion, an increase of 3.2 percent from the first quarter of 2017 and up 6.2 percent from the second quarter of 2016.

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Consumer confidence rises in first half of August

Consumer confidence rose in the first half of August to its highest level since January due to a more positive outlook for the overall economy as well as more favorable personal financial prospects. Too few interviews were conducted following Charlottesville to assess how much it will weaken consumers' economic assessments.

The fallout is likely to reverse the improvement in economic expectations recorded across all political affiliations in early August. Moreover, the Charlottesville aftermath is more likely to weaken the economic expectations of Republicans, since prospects for Trump's economic policy agenda have diminished. Nonetheless, the partisan difference between the optimism of Republicans and the pessimism of Democrats is still likely to persist, with Independents remaining as the bellwether group.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Initial unemployment claims fall by 12,000 in latest report

In the week ending August 12, initial unemployment claims were 232,000, a decrease of 12,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 244,000. The 4-week moving average was 240,500, a decrease of 500 from the previous week's unrevised average of 241,000.

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Mortgage applications rise 0.1 percent in weekly survey, rates dip

The Market Composite Index increased 0.1 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier, with purchase loans down 2 percent and refinances rising 2 percent. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to its lowest level since November 2016, 4.12 percent.

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Industrial production up 0.2 percent in July and 2.2 percent year-on-year

Industrial production rose 0.2 percent in July following an increase of 0.4 percent in June. At 105.5 percent of its 2012 average, total industrial production was 2.2 percent above its year-earlier level. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector was unchanged in July at 76.7 percent, a rate that is 3.2 percentage points below its long-run (1972-2016) average.

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E-commerce retail sales rose 4.8 percent in 2Q 2017, with market share rising to 8.9 percent

Accounting for 8.9 percent of the total, U.S. retail e-commerce sales for the second quarter of 2017 were $111.5 billion, an increase of 4.8 percent from the first quarter of 2017. Total retail sales for the second quarter of 2017 were estimated at $1,256.2 billion, an increase of 0.5 percent from the first quarter of 2017.

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Fed meeting minutes reveal concern about weak inflation and possible halt to interest rate hikes

Federal Reserve policymakers appeared increasingly wary about recent weak inflation and some called for halting interest rate hikes until it was clear the trend was transitory.  The minutes also indicated the Fed was poised to begin reducing its $4.2 trillion portfolio of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities.

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July Leading Economic Indicators rose another 0.3 percent

The U.S. LEI improved in July, suggesting the U.S. economy may experience further improvements in economic activity in the second half of the year. The decline in building permits, a reversal from June, was more than offset by gains in the financial indicators, new orders and sentiment.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Year-ahead business inflation expectations rose to 1.9 percent in August

Inflation expectations: Firms' inflation expectations increased to 1.9 percent over the year ahead.

Current economic environment: Sales levels were virtually unchanged, and profit margins declined somewhat over the month.

Quarterly question: Overall, firms expect margin adjustments to exert more upward pressure on prices over the next 12 months. The year-ahead influence of labor and non-labor costs on prices remained roughly unchanged, as did the influence of sales levels and productivity.

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July building permits dipped 4.1 percent from June but still up 4.1 percent year-on-year

Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in July were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,223,000. This is 4.1 percent below the revised June rate of 1,275,000, but is 4.1 percent above the July 2016 rate of 1,175,000.

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July housing starts down 4.8 percent from June and 5.6 percent year-on-year

Privately-owned housing starts in July were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,155,000. This is 4.8 percent below the revised June estimate of 1,213,000 and is 5.6 percent below the July 2016 rate of 1,223,000.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

CoreLogic: Delinquent mortgages fell to 4.5 percent in May

Nationally, 4.5 percent of mortgages were in some stage of delinquency (30 days or more past due including those in foreclosure) in May 2017. This represents a 0.8 percentage point decline in the overall delinquency rate compared with May 2016 when it was 5.3 percent.


As of May 2017, the foreclosure inventory rate, which measures the share of mortgages in some stage of the foreclosure process, was 0.7 percent compared with 1 percent in May 2016. The serious delinquency rate, defined as 90 days or more past due including loans in foreclosure, was 2 percent, unchanged from April 2017 and down from 2.6 percent in May 2016. The 2 percent serious delinquency rate in April and May this year was the lowest since November 2007 when it was also 2 percent.

June business inventories rose by largest amount in seven months

U.S. businesses increased their stockpiles in June by the largest amount in seven months – rising by 0.5 percent -- while sales also rose by 0.3 percent.  It was the best showing since inventories had risen 0.9% in November.

August Empire State Manufacturing Survey jumps to highest level in 15 years

Business activity grew strongly in New York State, according to firms responding to the August 2017 Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The headline general business conditions index climbed fifteen points to 25.2, its highest level in nearly three years. Indexes assessing the six-month outlook suggested that firms were very optimistic about future conditions.

July retail sales post largest increase in seven months

U.S. retail sales recorded their biggest increase in seven months in July – rising by 0.65 percent -- as consumers boosted purchases of motor vehicles as well as discretionary spending. The data suggested the economy continued to gain momentum early in the third quarter.

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