Posts Tagged ‘Jobless Claims’

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 18th, 2019

November 17, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 18th, 2019Last week’s economic reporting included readings on inflation, testimony by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new unemployment claims.

Rising Gas Prices Fuel Jump in Inflation

Consumer inflation increased at its fastest pace in seven months according to the Consumer Price Index for October. Consumer prices rose 0.40 percent and exceeded analysts’ forecast of 0.30 percent and September’s reading of 0.00 percent inflationary growth.  Analysts attributed the jump in prices to rapidly rising gasoline prices.

October’s reading for core inflation, which excludes fuel and food prices, supported this view. Core inflation grew by 0.20 percent in October, which matched expectations and exceeded September’s core inflation reading of 0.10 percent.

Year-over-year inflation rose from 1.70 percent to 1.80 percent; this was lower than the top year-over-year reading that approached 3.00 percent.

Fed Chair Says Interest Rates on Hold Unless Economy Deteriorates

In testimony before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said,: “We see the current stance of monetary policy to remain appropriate as long as incoming information about the economy remains broadly consistent with our outlook of moderate economic growth, a strong labor market,  and inflation near our symmetric rate of 2.00 percent.”

Mr. Powell said that Federal Reserve Policy is flexible and subject to adjustment as required by future news and economic events. The benchmark Federal Funds rate range is currently 1.50 percent to 2.00 percent.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week. Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose six basis points to 3.25 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages rose seven basis points to 3.20 percent;  the average rate for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages rose five basis points to 3.44 percent.

Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 0.40 percent.

225,000 first-time jobless claims were filed last week; this exceeded expectations of 210,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 211,000 new jobless claims filed. Analysts said the spike in new claims was caused by seasonal anomalies and not by layoffs. New jobless claims are likely to fall as the holiday season approaches and seasonal hiring picks up.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings from the National Association of Home Builders on housing market conditions; the Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Readings on sales of pre-owned homes and consumer sentiment will also be released along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 4th, 2019

November 3, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 4th, 2019Last week’s economic reports included readings from Case-Shiller on home prices, pending home sales data and the post-meeting statement announcement from the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee were released.

Labor sector reports on jobs and the national unemployment rate were also released. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and initial jobless claims were also published.

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Slows in August

Home price growth slowed by 0.20 percent in August for the first time since August 2018. Home price growth rates typically decrease in August as peak home-buying season passes. The Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index showed a geographical shift away from the West and Southwest in August as two of the three cities with the highest home price growth rates were in the Southeast.

Home prices in Phoenix, Arizona held the top spot in the 20-City Home Price Index with a seasonally-adjusted annual growth rate of 6.30 percent. Home prices in Charlotte, North Carolina and in Atlanta, Georgia rose 4.50 and 4.00 percent.

Pending home sales rose 1.50 percent in September according to the National Association of Realtors®. Pending home sales gauge future closed sales and mortgage loan volume.

Fed Lowers Key Interest Rate Range

The Federal Reserve announced its third consecutive cut to its benchmark interest rate range but indicated that future rate cuts may be on hold. Fed policymakers cut the federal funds rate range one-quarter percent to 1.50 to 1.75 percent from 1.75 percent to 2.00 percent.

Federal Open Market Committee members said global economic developments and muted inflationary pressure were considerations in the decision to lower the Fed’s key interest rate range.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week; rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose eight basis points and averaged 3.78 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages rose one basis point and averaged 3.19 percent.

Rates for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages rose three basis points to 3.43 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 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 0.40 percent.

First-time jobless claims rose by 5000 claims to 218,000 new claims filed. The national unemployment rate rose to 3.60 percent in October as compared to September’s reading of 3.50 percent. ADP reported 125,000 private-sector jobs added in October as compared to 93,000 jobs added in September. 128,000 public and private sector jobs were added in October according to the government’s Non-Farm Payrolls report.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on job openings and consumer sentiment. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 28th, 2019

October 27, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 28th, 2019Last week’s economic news included readings on sales of new and previously-owned homes and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

New Home Sales Dip in September

Commerce Department readings indicated fewer sales of new homes than in August. 701,000 sales were reported in September on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis; 706,000 new homes were sold in August and analysts expected 700,000  sales of new homes.

Sales fell by 0.70 percent month-to-month but were 15.50 percent higher year-over-year. September was the second time in 12 years that new home sales exceeded 700,000 in consecutive months.

Sales of new homes were lower in three of four regions. Sales fell by -2.80 percent in the Northeast and were -3.80 percent lower in the West.  New home sales fell -0.20 percent in the South but rose +6.30 percent in the Midwest. The median sale price of new homes fell in September, which indicated that builders may be building more affordable homes. 

In recent years, builders concentrated on building high-end homes. Real estate pros said there was a 5.50 month supply of new homes available in September as compared to the benchmark reading of a six month supply of homes for sale that indicates markets are balanced between home buyers and sellers.

Sales of pre-owned homes also fell in September.5.38 million previously-owned homes were sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Analysts expected 5.40 million sales and  5.50 million pre-owned homes were sold in August.

Mortgage Rates Rise;   Initial Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week as the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose six basis points to 3.75 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose three basis points to 3.18 percent. 

Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.40 percent and were five basis points higher. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.20 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims fell last week; 212,000 first-time claims were filed. Analysts expected 215,000 claims based on the prior week’s reading of 218,000 initial claims. Analysts said there were no indications of rising layoffs and noted that new jobless claims stayed near a 50-year low.

October’s Consumer Sentiment Index fell to an index reading of 95.50 as compared to September’s reading of 96.00. Consumers surveyed were less anxious about trade disputes with China than in September. 

Readings for the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index have held steady in recent months, but remain below the post-recession peak reading of 101.40.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings from Case-Shiller on home prices and a statement from the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee on monetary policy decisions. 

The Labor Department also reports on Non-Farm Payrolls and national unemployment is also scheduled along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 22nd, 2019

July 22, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 22nd, 2019Last week’s economic reporting included readings from the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued.

The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index was also released. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also reported.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Rises as Housing Starts Slip

Home builder confidence in current market conditions rose one point to an index reading of 65 in June. Any reading over 50 means that most builders view housing markets conditions as positive, but July’s reading was lower year-over-year.

Builders have long cited a shortage of buildable lots and labor, but also face new obstacles including strict local zoning laws and overall regulation. High demand for affordable homes coupled with short supplies of homes in this market range provided challenges to home builders, communities and would-be home buyers.

Housing starts fell in June to 1.125 million on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Analysts predicted 1.244 million starts based on May’s reading of 1.265 million starts. The housing market index used to foreshadow the number of housing starts, but the two readings are no longer as closely connected.

The Commerce Department reported 1.220 million building permits issued in June as compared to 1.299 million permits issued in May.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week after three weeks of minor movement. Rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaged six basis points higher at 3.81 percent. The average rate for 15-year fixed rate mortgages rose one basis point to 3.23 percent.

5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rates averaged two basis points higher at 3.48 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable averaged 0.40 percent.

New jobless claims rose to 216,000 new claims filed as compared to 208,000 new claims filed the prior week. Analysts predicted 220,000 first-time claims would be filed. The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index rose in July to 98.40 percent as compared to June’s reading of 98.20. Analysts expected a reading of 99.00.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on sales of new and previously-owned homes along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 22nd, 2019

January 22, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 22nd, 2019Last week’s economic reports included National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Market Index, the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued were delayed due to the federal government shutdown, which continued and became the longest government shutdown on record.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Rises Amid Headwinds

Home builder confidence rose two points in January according to the National Association of Home Builders. Builder concerns over rising construction costs and tariffs on building materials were balanced by falling mortgage rates.

Builders felt pressure to create more affordable homes and to offer incentives to buyers that could create more sales. Building new homes is the only solution to the long-entrenched shortage of homes; the Home builder index is closely watched by housing and mortgage industry pros as an indicator of future home inventories and mortgages.

Federal Reserve Beige Book Shows Concern Over Current Economic Conditions

The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report, which recounts Federal Reserve business contacts’ views of the economy included information from eight of twelve Federal Reserve districts. Business leaders cited higher costs including rising tariffs and costs for supplies. Business growth was slower during December and early January.

Additional concerns cited by the Fed’s business contacts included the government shutdown and conflicts over trade and political policies. Fed contacts reported mixed results with passing on higher costs to consumers. This suggests that consumers are “tapped out,” or are reining in spending among worries over the shutdown and rising costs.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims

Freddie Mac reported mixed activity on mortgage rates last week as the average rate for 330-year fixed rate mortgages was unchanged at 4,45 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage ticked down one basis point to 3.88 percent. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose four basis points to 3.37 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Fewer first-time jobless claims were filed last week with 213,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 220,000 new claims filed and 216,000 first-time claims filed in the prior week.

The University of Michigan released its consumer confidence index for January; consumer uncertainty about economic conditions and the government shutdown caused January’s reading to fall nearly eight points to 90.70. from December’s reading of 98.30 Analysts expected a reading of 97.50, but this may have been based in hopes that the government shutdown would end.

Whats Ahead

This week’s economic reports are limited by Monday’s holiday and the ongoing government shutdown. Expected readings include sales of new and pre-owned homes along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 24th, 2018

December 24, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 24th, 2018Last week’s economic news included readings from the National Association of Home Builders, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and National Association of Realtors® report on sales of previously-owned homes. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Home Builders Lose Confidence as Housing Crunch Continues

Homebuilder confidence fell to a 36 month low in December as homebuilder concerns over rising home prices, high mortgage rates and decreasing inventories of available homes sidelined home buyers. The NAHB Housing Market Index fell four points to 56.

Components of the Housing Market Index reading also fell as builder confidence in current market conditions fell six points to an index reading of 61; builder confidence in new home sales over the next six months fell by four points to a reading of 61. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new home developments dipped two points to 43.

While any reading over 50 is considered positive, buyer traffic readings under 50 are not unusual.

Analysts and real estate pros often consider the Home Builders Housing Market Index as an indicator of future new home construction and sales. Rising home prices and mortgage rates were cited as reasons contributing to the drop in home builder confidence.

Existing Home Sales, Housing Starts and Building Permits Issued Rise in November

Sales of pre-owned homes rose in November with 5.32 million sales reported on an annual seasonally adjusted basis. Analysts expected a reading of 5.17 million sales based on October’s sales pace of 5.22 million sales.

Three out of four regions reported gains in sales of pre-owned homes. The Northeast reported a gain of 7.20 percent; the Midwest reported a year-over-year gain of 5.50 percent and sales of pre-owned homes were 2.50 percent higher in the South. The West lost traction in existing home sales with a negative reading of -6.30 percent. Known for high home prices, it may be that home prices have peaked in the West.

The Commerce Department reported housing starts at the rate of 1.25 million in November; analysts predicted a rate of 1.230 million starts based on October’s reading of 1.217 million starts. November building permits rose to 1.328 million permits issued as compared to a reading of 1.265 million permits issued in October.

Analysts said that more apartment homes were being built; this trend could be a further indication of home prices being out of reach for would-be home buyers.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Dip

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week; 30-year fixed mortgage rates averaged 4.62 percent and were one basis point lower than in the prior week.  15-year fixed mortgage rates were unchanged at an average of 4.07 percent.

The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was six basis points lower at 3.98 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims fell last week to 206,000 claims filed. Analysts predicted 218,000 new jobless claims based on the prior week’s reading of 206,000 new unemployment claims filed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic readings include Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, new and pending home sales and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. Government shutdown may impact some readings.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 23rd, 2018

July 23, 2018

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week 7-23-18Last week’s scheduled economic releases included readings from the National Association of Home Builders and Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released

NAHB Housing Market Index Unchanged in July

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index held steady in July despite concerns connected with tariffs on building materials. Analysts said that high demand for homes continued to fuel builder confidence in housing market conditions, but some analysts said that housing market conditions may be at or near peak.

Builder confidence in current market conditions was unchanged with a reading of 74; confidence in housing market conditions within the next six months rose two points to 75. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new single- family developments also rose two points to 52. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders are confident about housing market conditions than not.

Commerce Department: Housing Starts, Building Permits Fall

June housing starts fell according to the Commerce Department with 1.173 million starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Housing starts were 12.30 percent lower than downwardly-revised readings for May. Building permits issued also fell in June. 1.273 million permits were issued on a year-over-year basis as compared to May’s reading of 1.301 million permits issued year-over-year. Builders faced difficulty in producing homes at attractive pricing due to increased costs of building materials.

Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new single-family developments rose two points to an index reading of 52 in June. Summer months typically see more home buyer traffic due to school vacations providing a transitional period for families seeking new homes.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, Weekly Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported mixed and minimal movement in mortgage rates last week. Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages were one basis point lower at 4.52 percent; rates for a15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.00 percent which was two basis points lower. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged one basis point higher at 3.87 percent.  Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims fell to 207,000 claims filed, which was lower than the expected reading of 224,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 215,000 new claims filed.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic releases include readings on sales of new and pre-owned homes, housing vacancies and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 25th, 2018

June 25, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 25th, 2018Last week’s economic reports included readings from the National Association of Home Builders, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued. Sales of pre-owned homes were reported along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Builder Confidence Slips as Trade Wars Boost Lumber Prices

According to the National Association of Home Builders, home builder confidence in current market conditions was down two points to 68 as compared to May’s index reading of 70. Analysts said that rising lumber prices impacted builder sentiment and have replaced labor costs as builders’ primary expense.

Increased building costs were cited as a concern for builders despite high demand for homes and limited homes for sale. Rising materials costs were attributed to trade wars caused by recent tariffs on lumber.

NAHB said that three components of the Home Builders Housing Market Index were also lower in June. Builder confidence in current market conditions slipped one point to an  index reading of 75; builder confidence in market conditions within the next six months also dropped one point to 76.

Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new housing developments dipped one point to 50. Any reading over 50 indicates more builders than fewer were confident about housing market conditions.

Housing Starts Hit 11-Year High in May

May housing starts surpassed April’s reading of 1.280 million starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. May’s reading of 1.350 million starts also surpassed expectations of 1.300 million starts. Higher volume and faster pace of building homes was good news for real estate and mortgage industry pros, as building more homes is the only way to relieve marked shortages of available homes in many areas.

Rising materials costs could dampen construction pace as tariffs and resulting trade wars increase. May’s reading for housing starts was the highest since 2007 and was 20.00 percent higher year-over-year.

Building permits issued in May were 4.60 percent lower than April’s reading. Building permits were issued at a pace of 1.301 million permits on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis.

Sales of Pre-Owned Homes Slip as Supply Tightens

Previously owned homes sold at a slower pace in May as short supplies of homes constrained already tight markets. The National Association of Realtors® reported 5.43 million sales on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Analysts expected a reading of 5.52 million sales based on April’s reading of 5.45 million sales. May sales of previously owned homes were three percent lower year-over-year.

Analysts said that there is little relief in sight and that there is a growing disparity in home sales; sales of homes worth $250,000 or more were up six percent, while sales of homes worth less than $250,000 fell by eight percent. Short supplies of homes for sale encouraged bidding wars and sidelined first-time and moderate-income buyers.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week; the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped five basis points to 4.57 percent; rates for a 15-year fixed mortgage were eight basis points lower at 4.04 percent and rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were unchanged at an average of 3.83 percent.

Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages, 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and were 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims fell to 218,000 claims filed last week as compared to the prior week’s reading of 221,000 new claims filed and expectations of 220,000 new claims.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, new and pending home sales and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 29th, 2018

May 29, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 29th, 2018Last week’s economic reports included readings on sales of new and previously-owned homes along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Home Sales Lower in April

Sales of new and previously-owned homes were lower in April. The Commerce Department reported sales of new homes at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 662,000 sales. New home sales were 1.50 percent lower than for March, but were11.60 percent higher year-over-year.

Analysts expected new home sales to rise to 682,000 sales based on the March reading of 672,000 new homes sold.  Sales of new homes are calculated based on a small sample of sales and are typically subject to adjustment. Year-to date sales were 8.40 percent higher year-over-year.

New home sales were downwardly revised for the past three months, which could indicate a slowing in the market. Higher interest rates and rising home prices may be taking a toll on buyer enthusiasm. Fewer buyers caused the inventory of homes for sale to increase to a 5.40month supply. Real estate pros typically consider a six-month supply of available homes a normal inventory of homes for sale.

Sales of previously owned homes were also lower in April; the National Association of Realtors® reported seasonally-adjusted annual sales of 5.46 million homes as compared to expected sales of 5.50 million and March sales pace of 5.60 million sales of previously-owned homes. While fewer sales can relieve demand and ease rising home prices, it appeared that potential buyers are waiting for more options.

Sales of pre-owned homes were 2.50 percent lower than for March and were 1.40 percent lower year-over-year; this was the second consecutive month for a lower year-over-year sales reading. The inventory crunch of pre-owned homes for sale has reduced the average sales period to decrease to 26 days.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Sideline Buyers and Sellers as New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported the highest average mortgage rates in seven years. 30-year mortgage rates averaged 4.66 percent; rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.15 percent and rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.87 percent.

Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. Mortgage rates have not risen so fast at the beginning of the year for 40 years. Analysts at Freddie Mac said that home sellers, as well as buyers, may be sidelined as inventories of homes shrink and mortgage rates rise. This could mean that sellers as well as buyers will wait until market conditions and mortgage rates ease.

First-time home buyers accounted for 33 percent of existing home sales; this was lower than the average of 40 percent. First-time buyers are important to real estate markets as their purchases of pre-owned homes enable homeowners to buy their next homes.

New jobless claims rose to 234,000 claims filed as compared to expectations of 219,000 new claims filed. 223,000 new claims were filed the prior week.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include readings from Case-Shiller on home prices, construction spending and pending home sales. ADP and Non-Farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate will also be released.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 21st, 2018

May 21, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 21st, 2018Last week’s economic releases included the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for May, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Home Builder Confidence Rises in May

According to the National Association of Home Builders, home builders surveyed indicated higher confidence in housing market conditions for May. April’s reading was downwardly revised to an index reading of 68; analysts expected a reading of 69.  May’s home builder confidence reading was 70. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders consider housing market conditions to positive.

Three-month rolling readings for regions showed mixed results in May. Northeast and Western regions were unchanged with index readings of 55 and 76 respectively. Midwestern and Southern regions posted a one-point drop with respective index readings of 65 and 92. The NAHB cited high lumber prices as a concern and said that rising materials costs were impacting builders’ ability to produce affordable housing for first-time buyers.

Both housing starts and building permits issued were lower in April than for March; The Commerce Department reported1.287 million housing starts in April as compared to 1.336 million starts in March. Housing starts are calculated on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Although housing starts were 3.70 percent lower in April, analysts said there was little concern as the rate of housing starts remained near the highest levels in 11 years.

April’s decline in housing starts was attributed to volatile multi-unit projects; construction rates for single-family homes were little changed. The South reported an increase in housing starts as all other regions reported fewer housing starts. Builders said that labor shortages continue to impact construction rates. Analysts expected construction rates to expand throughout 2018 as demand for homes rises. Building permits issued fell in April to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.352 million from the March reading of 1.377 million permits issued.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims

Mortgage rates rose to their highest level in seven years. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage were six basis points higher and averaged 4.61 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was seven basis points higher at 4.08 percent. Mortgage rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged five basis points higher at 3.82 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims rose to 222,000 new claims last week as compared to 211,000 new claims filed the prior week. Analysts expected 215,000 new claims filed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s economic releases include readings on sales of new and previously-owned homes and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.