Existing Home Sales, Gas Prices, Jobs

March 21, 2016

Monday – March 21

After hitting six-month highs in January, February Existing Home Sales slipped by 7.1% from the previous month to an annual rate of 5.08 million, below the 5.37 million expected. The National Association of REALTORS┬« (NAR) said that a low supply of existing homes and steady price growth were the reasons behind the decline. Sales are up 2.2% from February 2015. Existing Home Sales are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist said, “The lull in contract signings in January from the large East Coast blizzard, along with the slump in the stock market, may have played a role in February’s lack of closings. However, the main issue continues to be a supply and affordability problem. Finding the right property at an affordable price is burdening many potential buyers.”

Gas prices continue to rise around the country due to higher prices for the price of oil, after the price went from $26 a barrel in mid-February to the current $40. That works out to be a rise of about $0.33 a gallon, says Tom Kloza, analyst for the Oil Price Information Service. The national average price for a regular gallon of gasoline hit $1.98 on Monday, up from $1.71 a month ago. In addition, the demand for gasoline is increasing as more drivers take to the roads for spring and summer.

The Labor Department reported last week that the number of people that were hired into a new job and those quitting their current jobs both declined in January. This signals that although the labor market has dramatically improved from the low levels seen during the Great recession at the end of 2008 and into 2009, it has yet to come back to full employment. The data from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey or Jolts showed that 5 million people were hired in January, down from 5.4 million in December. The number of people quitting their jobs declined to 2.8 million from 3.1 million.