Construction spending in July landed a healthy 5.8% above where it was a year ago. In line with this, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) pegged builder confidence at a still high 67.
The NAHB Chairman explained, “builders continue to report strong demand for new housing, fueled by steady job and income growth along with rising household formations.”
In Freddie Mac‘s August Forecast, their chief economist noted, “the good news is that purchase mortgage applications have recently rebounded to above year-ago levels.”
REVIEW OF LAST WEEK
RALLY ENDS… Wall Street staged an end-of-summer sale, as prices dropped on all three indexes. Some blamed it on trade worries, but the economic data stayed strong, so it could have just been profit taking after the three-week rally.
The red-hot ISM Manufacturing index hit its highest level since 2004, while ISM Services also came in well above expectations. Initial jobless claims fell to 203,000, the fewest since 1969!
August’s Employment Report showed 201,000 more jobs. Wages are up 2.9% the past year, their biggest gain yet in the economic recovery. With total hours worked up 2.1%, total cash earnings are up 5.1% from a year ago.
The week ended with the Dow down 0.2%, to 25917; the S&P 500 down 1.0%, to 2872, and the Nasdaq down 2.6%, to 7903.
Friday’s strong jobs report sent bonds south for the week. The 30YR FNMA 4.0% bond ended down .36, at $101.45. Yet the national average 30-year fixed mortgage rate increased marginally in Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey. Remember, mortgage rates can be extremely volatile, so check with your mortgage professional for up-to-the-minute information.
DID YOU KNOW?
Realtor.com reports 80% of homebuyers surveyed were pet owners and 79% said they would pass on a dream home that didn’t work for their pets.
THIS WEEK’S FORECAST
INFLATION COOL, RETAIL WARM… Inflation by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) isn’t expected to heat up, remaining pretty much within the Fed’s target range. Retail Sales, on the other hand, should stay warm, up a nice 0.4% for August.
NOTE: Weaker than expected economic data tends to send bond prices up and interest rates down, while positive data points to lower bond prices and rising loan rates.
FEDERAL RESERVE WATCH
Forecasting Federal Reserve policy changes in coming months… It’s hard to find anyone who thinks the Fed won’t raise the rate in two weeks, but we shouldn’t see another hike until the end of the year. Note: In the lower chart, a 98% probability of change is only a 2% probability the rate will stay the same.
Current Fed Funds Rate: 1.75%-2.00%
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Probability of change from current policy:
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BUSINESS TIP OF THE WEEK
Come to work 15 minutes early. Use the time to get all the small stuff ready–computer, phone messages, coffee, to-do list–so you can jump right into your most important task when the day normally begins.
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