Daily News 4/23/15

April 23, 2015

Thursday – April 23

In stark contrast to yesterday’s robust March Existing Home Sales report, the Commerce Department reported that March New Home Sales declined by 11.4% from February to an annual rate of 481,000. The March rate was below the 520,000 that was expected and was the biggest drop in more than 1 1/2 years. However, the harsh winter weather in January and February closed down many construction sites around the country, which could push potential sales to April and may. The hardest hit area was the Northeast, declining by 33%, followed by a near 16% drop in the South, while the West saw a 3.4% decline. The Midwest bucked the trend, rising 6%.

Gas prices at the pumps rose to their highest level in 2015 hitting $2.49 in the latest survey. The uptick in prices is due to a rise in the price of oil, which was up 16% this month. Last year this time the price was $3.66, with the all-time high at $4.11 hit back in July of 2008. However, prices are expected to hit lows not seen since 2005 this summer and could hover near the $2 range. An analyst from GasBuddy.com said “A worldwide glut of petroleum will continue, putting more downward pressure on fuel prices through the summer.”

The foreclosure arena received news that the share of seriously underwater homes rose by 0.4% in the first quarter of 2015 from the fourth quarter of 2014. Though the increase was marginal, it was the first increase since the second quarter of 2012 and down 4% from last year. Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. went on to say that “the end of 2014 saw the lowest share of seriously underwater properties since we began tracking data, but in the first quarter that share bumped up slightly as home price appreciation continued to slow down in many markets.”