Redfin says home prices and sales rose in February, Retail sector sees strong earnings, Household Debt increased by 1.8% in Q4

February 21, 2017

Web-based real estate database company Redfin says home prices and sales rose last month while inventory continued to decrease. U.S. home prices increased 7.9% while sales were up 5.6% from January 2016 to January 2017. In the same time, home inventories fell 12% over the past year, which was the biggest annual decline in the supply of homes since April 2013. “Buyers jumped through three hurdles last month: rising prices, low inventory and a fast market,” said Redfin Chief Economist Nela Richardson.

Strong earnings from the retail sector are fueling higher stock prices today to begin the holiday shortened week. Profits from Home Depot, Walmart and Macy’s all topped profit estimates. The headlines pushed the Dow (20,743), Nasdaq (5,864) and the S&P 500 (2,365) to record high intraday levels as the rally that began after the presidential election marches on. In comparison, the S&P hit 666 back on March 6, 2009 at the height of the Great Recession.

The Federal Bank of New York reported on Monday that total household debt increased by 1.8% in the fourth quarter of 2016, up $226 to a staggering $12.58 trillion, just $99 billion below its peak in the third quarter of 2008. Broken down, there was a 1.6% increase in mortgage balances, a 1.9% increase in auto loan balances, a 4.3% increase in credit card balances, and a 2.4% increase in student loan balances this quarter. Mortgage balances, the largest component of household debt, stood at $8.48 trillion as of December 31, 2016, up $130 billion from the third quarter of 2016.