Last week’s financial news was relatively limited due to the Memorial Day holiday and no economic reports being released on Wednesday.
The biggest news in terms of housing and mortgages was the S&P/Case-Shiller Housing Market Indices (HMI) released on Tuesday.
The March HMI data for national housing markets reflected a sharp increase in year-over-year home prices from 9.30 percent in February to 10.90 percent in March.
Twelve cities included in the Case-Shiller 20-city index reported double-digit year-over-year percentage gains for March home prices. While this data strongly supports recovering home prices, analysts cite the need for more jobs, which would enable more consumers to buy homes.
Thursday’s weekly Jobless Claims Report from the Labor Department highlighted ongoing problems with lagging employment as new jobless claims jumped to 354,000. The four-week moving average for new jobless claims increased by 6.75 percent to 347,250 new jobless claims.
Bullish Stock Market Affects Mortgage Interest Rates
Mortgage rates jumped in connection rising stock prices; Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage increased to 3.81 percent plus 0.80 percent in discount points. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage increased to 2.98 percent plus 0.70 percent in discount points.
Rising mortgage rates suggest that home buyers may benefit from considering hybrid adjustable rate mortgages; the average rate for a 5/1 hybrid ARM was 2.66 percent with 0.50 percent in discount points.
The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index (Chicago PMI) measures how manufacturing and related businesses perform on a monthly basis. May’s reading increased to 58.70 and surpassed expectations of a 49.90 reading as well as April’s reading of 49.00. Readings above 50 are considered positive.
Consumer Sentiment rose in May to a reading of 84.50, which exceeded both the expected reading of 83.80 and April’s reading of 83.70. As consumers gain confidence in the economy, they are more likely to buy homes.
Next Week’s News
Construction spending for April is due Monday with a consensus of +1.00 percent as compared to -1.70 percent in March. Rising construction spending could indicate an increase in residential construction, which has been facing obstacles including increasing labor and material costs and a shortage of available land for residential building.
Thursday’s news includes the weekly Jobless Claims report and Freddie Mac’s weekly report of average mortgage rates.
Friday brings the monthly Jobs Report, which consists of the Department of Labor’s Non-farm Payrolls report and the monthly unemployment rate. These reports are significant for gauging national and regional labor markets and for anticipating the Fed’s decision regarding its current quantitative easing policy.
If the Fed ceases or reduces its purchase of Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities (MBS), mortgage rates are likely to rise.