Last week’s economic news included readings from the National Association of Home Builders on housing markets along with Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Fed Chair Jerome Powell appeared on 60 Minutes. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.
NAHB: Homebuilder Confidence Ticks Up
The National Association of Home Builders reported that home builders’ confidence in housing market conditions rose one point to an index reading of 83. Builder confidence readings over 50 indicate that most builders consider housing market conditions as positive.
Component readings used for the NAHB Housing Market Index were varied. Builder confidence in current market conditions rose one point to 88 and home builders’ confidence in housing markets over the next six months fell two points to 83. The index reading for home buyer traffic in new housing developments rose three points to 75. Homebuilders faced ongoing challenges including supply chain problems, rising materials prices, and meeting the need for affordable homes.
In related news, the Commerce Department reported a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.74 million housing starts in March. 1.77 million building permits were issued at a seasonally adjusted annual pace in March.
Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Fall
Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week as the rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped by nine basis points to 3.04 percent; rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped by seven basis points to 2.35 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 2.80 percent and were 12 basis points lower. Discount points for fixed-rate mortgages averaged 0.70 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
New jobless claims fell to 576,000 claims filed last week as compared to 769,000 initial claims filed the previous week. Ongoing jobless claims were unchanged from the prior week at 3.73 million claims filed.
The Commerce Department released inflation data for March. The Consumer Price Index rose by 0.60 percent as compared to February’s growth rate of 0.40 percent; analysts expected a March reading of 0.50 percent. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and fuel sectors rose 0.30 percent in March and exceeded expectations of 0.20 percent growth. Core inflation rose by 0.10 percent in February.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell appeared on 60 Minutes on Sunday; he said that that the global economy would not return to normal until the COVID pandemic is controlled, but he presented a brighter picture for the U.S. economy. He said that the national economy is expected to grow between six to seven percent and that the national unemployment rate could fall to four or five percent from its current rate of six percent.
This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on readings on sales of new and previously-owned homes and weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims.