Last week’s economic reports included readings on home price growth, new and pending home sales, and inflation. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.
Case-Shiller Reports Highest Gains in Home Prices Since 2005
March home prices grew at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 13.20 percent according to S&P Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index for March. National home prices gained 12.00 percent year-over-year in February; the corresponding 20-City Home Price Index reported that Phoenix, Arizona held the top spot for home price growth for the 22nd consecutive month; home prices rose by 20.00 percent year-over-year. San Diego, California followed with 19.10 percent growth in home prices, and Seattle, Washington posted year-over-year home price growth of 18.30 percent for third place in the 20-City Home Price Index.
All cities participating in the 20-City Index reported faster growth in March home prices than in February. Rapidly rising home prices pressed new home sales down from the March reading of 917,000 new homes sold to a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 863,000 new homes sold in April. The inventory of new homes for sale dipped to a 3.80 month supply in April as compared to a 4.60 month supply of new homes available in March. Builders faced continuing obstacles including high materials and labor costs that reduced their ability to produce the volume of homes needed to meet ongoing demand.
Pending home sales were -4.40 percent lower in April as compared to expectations of a 1.00 percent increase in pending sales; Pending home sales rose by 1.70 percent in March. High competition for homes and fewer available homes along with higher prices sidelined prospective buyers as affordability concerns increased.
Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Fall
Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week as the average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell by five basis points to 2.95 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.27 percent and were two basis points lower. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were unchanged at 2.59 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.60 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.20 percent.
First-time jobless claims fell to 406,000 initial claims filed as compared to the previous week’s reading of 444,000 new claims filed. Continuing jobless claims fell to 3.64 million claims filed from the prior week’s reading of 3.74 million continuing jobless claims filed.
Inflation rose by 0.50 percent in April, which matched analysts’ expectations. Core inflation, which excludes food and fuel sectors, rose by 0.70 percent and exceeded expectations of 0.60 percent growth.in April. The March reading for core inflation showed 0.40 percent growth. The Federal Reserve has an annual goal of two percent inflation; current readings indicate that inflation may rise above the two percent benchmark if the current pace of inflation continues.
This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on construction spending and readings on public and private-sector jobs growth. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be published.