August 7th, 2013 9:40 AM by Mel Samick
One of the first reports last Monday was that Home Sales were down in June. The National Association of Realtors pointed the finger at rising interest rates, a lack of inventory, and rising home prices for causing the slow down. According to the Case-Shiller 20-city Composite Index, home prices increased 2.4 percent in May. While rising interest rates surely played a part in the drop, the Wall Street Journal reported that the percentage of first-time home buyers buying homes this year is also down. According to the NAR report, over the past 30 years, first-time home buyers accounted for more than 40 percent of the total sales. In June, that percentage was down to 29 percent. This seems to be a perfect storm of sorts for the housing market; which may cause sales to fall short of the NAR prediction of 5.05 million existing home sales and 968,000 housing starts this year.
The House Financial Services Committee approved a proposed plan to wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over a five year period. While this bill, the Protecting American Taxpayers and Homeowners Act, may pass the House, the Senate is proposing a different path. The Senate is considering a similar wind down of the GSEs, but, the Senate would also like to create the Federal Mortgage Insurance Corp.
While the housing news was fairly straight forward last week, the jobs reports were mixed. ADP reported that 200,000 private-sector jobs were added in July, more than the anticipated number of 185,000. The Jobless Claims report was down to 326,000 from 345,000. The Unemployment Rate dropped from 7.5 percent to 7.4 percent. This was all consistent, until the Nonfarm Payrolls report was released. The number of jobs added came in below expectations at 162,000 versus the expectation of 180,000 jobs being added. This sent mortgage rates down, reversing the move from the day before after the FOMC announcement was released.
The FOMC announcement was once again very vague. The Federal Reserve downgraded its economic outlook slightly and didn't give much information about its plans for its Quantitative Easing Plan. The Committee said that the economy was expanding at a "modest" pace. In June, it had said that the economy was expanding at a "moderate" pace. It went on to say that the housing sector was strengthening, but, mortgage rates have risen.
In other news, the Consumer Confidence Index fell from last month and failed to meet expectations. It fell to 80.3 from 82.1 and the expectation was 81.1. The Employment Cost Index was unchanged at .5 percent. GDP rose to 1.7 percent, up from 1.1 percent. The formula to calculate the GDP was changed this month. The Commerce Department adjusted data from 1929 to the present and is now accounting for more knowledge or an "idea" based economy. For example, research and development is now counted as an investment (as opposed to an expense), more of the ownership transfer costs (title insurance, attorney fees, and engineering services for example) are added in, and interest from the unfunded part of pensions are also being accounted for. The result? Very little net change.
Information provided by NYCB Capital Markets