Retail Sales Surge in June, Consumer Sentiment Index fell in July

July 15, 2016

Friday – July 15

Retail Sales surged in June by 0.6 %, well above the 0.2% expected led by gasoline sales and retail sales. However, May was revised lower to 0.2% from 0.5%. Sales were up 2.7% from a year earlier. When stripping out volatile spending on cars and auto parts, sales were up 0.7 percent. Spending on building materials and gardening supplies jumped 3.9%, the most since April 2010.

Consumers were less confident in July as high end consumers fretted over the Brexit issues. The Consumer Sentiment Index fell to 89.5 in July, below the 93 expected and down from the 93.5 from the previous reading. “While stock prices quickly rebounded, an underlying sense of uncertainty about global prospects as well as the outlook for the domestic economy have not faded,” said Richard Curtin, a spokeperson for the index.

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Brexit Continued, Freddie Mac says housing is on track, gas prices good

June 27, 2016

Monday – June 27

The fall out from the Brexit vote continues today as global Stock markets plunge as investors rush to the safe haven of the Bond markets. The U.S. Dow Jones Industrial Average fell over 600 points on Friday and is lower by 300 points in Monday’s trading session. The Dow, Nasdaq and S&P 500 are now all in negative territory for 2016. Stock markets hate uncertainty and the exit of the U.K. has driven many questions as to what will happen in the coming months.

Government-sponsored entity Freddie Mac released its June 2016 outlook on Monday revealing that low mortgage rates are keeping the housing sector on track, despite rapidly rising prices. On the jobs front, Freddie sees the unemployment rate averaging at 4.9% in 2016 and 4.8% in 2017. Freddie went on to say that economic growth or Gross Domestic Product is forecasted at 1.9% for all of 2016 and 2.3% in 2017.

With the July 4 weekend quickly approaching, gas prices at the pumps are at the lowest level in a decade as a glut of cheap oil is flowing through the pipelines. The national average price for a regular gallon of gasoline is at $2.30. That is $0.47 lower than last year this time. It is expected that more than 43 million Americans will take to the roads, rails, seas and skies between Thursday, June 30 and Monday, July 4, 5 million more that of Memorial Day weekend. Of that number, 84% are expected to drive to their destinations.

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New Workers, Job Cuts, Mortgage rates tick higher

June 02, 2016

Thursday – June 2

Labor market news dominated the headlines this morning. First up was the May ADP Payrolls report where it showed that private employers added 173,000 new workers, which was below the 180,000 expected. April was revised higher to 166,000 from 156,000. Small businesses with fewer than 50 workers added the bulk of the new workers, followed by transportation, utilities and construction, and financial companies.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported that planned May Job cuts fell to a five-month low, down 53% from April. Challenger reported that there were 30,157 planned job cuts in May, down from the 64,141 cuts announced in April. May was the lowest monthly total since last December, when 23,622 job cuts were recorded. Since January, employers announced 275,218 job cuts, 13% higher than the 242,830 job cuts announced in the first five months of 2015.

Mortgage rates continued to edge higher this week and have increased for the third straight week in a row, though rates are still near three-year lows. Freddie Mac reports that the 30-year fixed conventional mortgage rate ($417,000 or less) rose to 3.66% this week from the 3.64% recorded last week. To obtain that rate, a potential borrower would have to pay 0.5 in points and fees. A year ago this time, the rate was 3.87%.

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Home Price Gains, Consumer Confidence Slips, PCE Rose

May 31, 2016

Tuesday – May 31

Home price gains remained steady in March due in part to a limited supply of homes on the market. The S&P Case-Shiller 20-city Home Price Index rose 5.4% this March from March 2015. From February to March, prices rose 0.9%. The S&P Case Shiller National Home Price Index was up a solid 5.2% from the previous March. A spokesperson from the index said, “The economy is supporting the price increases with improving labor markets, falling unemployment rates and extremely low mortgage rates.

Consumer Confidence slipped in May after declining in April as Americans felt that current conditions were less favorable in May than in April. The Consumer Confidence Index fell to 92.6 in May, down from the 94.7 in April and below the 96.2 expected. The index measures consumer attitudes, sentiment towards business conditions, short-term outlook, personal finances and jobs. The employment component said 24.4% of respondents said jobs were hard to get, up from 22.8% in April.

The Fed’s favorite inflation gauge, the Core Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE), rose 0.2% in April, in line with expectations, while year-over-year rose 1.6%, in line and matching the March number. Consumers opened their wallets in April as Personal Spending rose 1% versus 0.7% expected, the fastest pace in nearly seven years. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic output in the U.S.

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Cash Home Purchases, Housing Sector looking good, Memorial Day travel

May 20, 2016

Friday – May 20

CoreLogic reports that the share of homes purchased with cash in the first two months of the year hit an eight-year low from the same time period in 2008. For the first two months of 2016, cash sales averaged 35.6% of total home sales. Cash sales were 25% before the housing crisis and peaked in 2011 at 47%. The report went on to reveal that real estate-owned sales made up the largest cash sales at 59.2%, resales at 35.6%, short sales at 32.6%, while newly constructed homes were 15.2%

The housing sector continues to be a bright spot in the U.S. economy given low home loan rates along with modest seasonal inventory gains. The National Association of REALTORS® reported today that April Existing Home Sales rose 1.7% from March, the second monthly gain in a row. A surge in the Midwest and a modest gain in the Northeast offset smaller declines in the South and West. Sales rose to an annual clip of 5.45 million units in April, above the 5.40 million expected and up from the 5.36 million recorded in March. Existing Home Sales measure both the number and prices of existing single-family homes, condos and co-op sales over a one-month period.

Memorial Day weekend forecast statistics are hitting the wires ahead of the holiday weekend which begins on May 27. There are expected to be 38 million Americans hitting the roads or flying for the three-day weekend. Of the 38 million, 89% or 34 million will hit the road, up 2.1% from last year. Those travelling by air is expected to be 7% of the 38 million or 2.6 million, a 1.6% inrease. Those using alternate methods of transportaion, such as cruises, trains and buses will be 1.6 million, a 2.3% decline.

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Home Price Index, Consumer Confidence Index, Consumer Purchases

April 27, 2016

Tuesday – April 26

Home price gains continued in February, though moderation has been seen in some regions. The February Case-Shiller 20-city Home Price Index rose 5.4% from February 2015, below the 5.6% expected. A spokesperson said, “Home prices continue to rise twice as fast as inflation, but the pace is easing off in the most recent numbers.” The National Home Price Index rose 5.3% year-over-year. However, rising prices and the pace of single-family construction pose a concern throughout the nation.

The Conference Board reported on Tuesday that consumer attitudes towards current economic conditions slipped in April after the gains seen in March. The Consumer Confidence Index slid to 94.2 this month, from the 96.1 recorded in March and below the 96.7 expected. Consumers’ appraisals of the labor market were also mixed. Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” decreased, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” also declined.

Consumer purchases of long-lasting manufactured goods rose less than expected in March, signaling the sector still continues to drag its feet. U.S. durable orders rose 0.8% last month, below the 1.8% gain expected and after the 3.1% decline in February. The manufacturing sector continues to struggle with a stronger dollar with sluggish demand from overseas. Civilian aircraft orders and orders for motor vehicle parts decreased along with declines for computers, electronic products and appliances.

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PCE Rose, Personal Incomes Rose, Pending Home Sales Up

March 28, 2016

Monday – March 28

Inflation pressures remained tepid in February as measured by the Core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE). The Core PCE rose just 0.1% month-over-month in February, below the 0.2% expected and down from the 0.3% recorded in January. The Core PCE, which excludes food and energy, measures prices paid by consumers for goods and services to reveal underlying inflation trends. The Core PCE year-over-year, which is the Fed’s favored inflation gauge, rose 1.7%, which is below the 2% targeted by the Federal Reserve.

The Commerce Department also reported today that Personal Incomes rose 0.2% in February, reflecting a 0.1% decline in wages and salaries. Personal Spending rose slightly by 0.1% as consumers cut back on purchases in February. Consumer spending makes up about two-thirds of U.S. economic activity. Due to spending easing behind an uptick in income growth, the savings rate rose to its highest level in more than three years.

Over in the housing sector, February Pending Homes Sales surged 3.5% from January to its highest level in seven months, after a 3% decline in January. A spokesperson from the National Association of REALTORS® , which reports the data, said, “After some volatility this winter, the latest data is encouraging in that a decent number of buyers signed contracts last month, lured by mortgage rates dipping to their lowest levels in nearly a year1 and a modest, seasonal uptick in inventory.”

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Labor Market, Jobs Report, Mortgage Credit

November 06, 2015

Friday – November 6

Strength in the U.S. labor market rebounded in October to the fastest pace of the year, after weak numbers in August and September. The Labor Department reported that Non-farm Payrolls rose by 271,000 last month, which could push the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates in December. The 271,000 was well above the 181,000 expected, while August and September were revised higher by a total of 12,000.

Within the Jobs Report it showed that wage growth accelerated to the fastest year-over-year pace since 2009. The Unemployment Rate fell to 5% from 5.1%, the lowest level since April 2008, before the Great Recession began. Gains were seen in white collar businesses, health care, retailers and restaurants. The solid report signals that the world’s largest economy is back on track. The so-called U6 number fell to 9.8%, the first time below 10% since May 2008. The U6 number are those people who can’t find work or those with only part-time jobs.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported this week that mortgage credit availability continued to loosen in October, due in part to new conforming loan programs. The Mortgage Credit Availability Index rose 1.5% last month to 128.4, after an increase in September. A spoke person for the MBA said many of the new conforming loan programs were affordable housing programs, which have lower down payment requirements.

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