Last week saw a relatively quiet week due to the 4th of July holiday, but there were some housing-related developments:
Monday: The Department of Commerce reported that overall construction spending increased by 0.50 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $874.9 billion. Residential construction grew by 1.20 percent, and May 2012 construction spending was 5.40 percent higher than in May 2012.
More spending in residential construction can indicate builder confidence in housing markets; added construction could help ease low inventories of available homes.
Tuesday: CoreLogic reported that May national home prices increased by 12.20 percent over May 2012, and grew by 2.60 percent in May including sales of distressed properties. Excluding distressed properties, home sales rose by 2.30 percent in May for a year-over-year increase of 11.60 percent.
States hardest hit in the economic downturn are showing good recovery; Nevada home prices rose by 26 percent year-over-year. While double-digit increases in home prices are good news, economists note that home prices remain approximately 20 percent below their peak in 2006.
Employment Data: More Jobs, Less Unemployment
Employment data are important for housing markets; employment is closely tied to home buyers' ability to qualify for mortgage loans. Last week ended with several important jobs related reports:
Wednesday: ADP reported that 188,000 private-sector jobs were added in June for the highest increase in four months. This number surpassed expectations of 160,000 new jobs and May's revised figure of 134,000 jobs added.
Freddie Mac's mortgage rates survey had some good news as average rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 4.46 percent to 4.29 percent with discount points also falling from 0.80 to 0.70 percent. Average rates for a 15-year mortgage fell from 3.50 percent to 3.39 percent, with discount points moving from 0.80 percent to 0.70percent.
Friday: The Labor Department released Non-farm Payrolls and the national Unemployment Rate for June. Non-farm matched May's level of 195,000 jobs added, which surpassed expectations of 155,000 jobs added. The unemployment rate remains at 7.60 percent, just over expectations of 7.50 percent.
The Federal Reserve has cited a benchmark unemployment rate of 6.50 percent as a criterion for raising the federal funds rate and reducing its current quantitative easing policy; this news may help slow mortgage rates as the Fed isn't likely to modify its programs based on the current unemployment rate.
This week's economic news includes today's report on consumer credit. Tuesday brings Job Openings for May, and Wednesday brings the minutes from the recent FOMC meeting. The minutes should clarify exactly what the committee discussed concerning quantitative easing and their plans for modifying it.
Thursday, Freddie Mac will release weekly mortgage rates. The federal government will release weekly jobless claims and will update the federal budget. The week's economic news will conclude with release of the Producer Price Index (PPI) and Core PPI for June, along with Consumer Sentiment for July.