New Home Sales went up 3.5% in August, though most of the gain came from a downward revision to July. Yet the trend is higher: sales the first eight months of this year are up 6.8% from the same period in 2017.
But Pending Homes Sales slipped 1.8% in August. Supply is the prob, as folks hang onto their homes. The median age of homes went from 31 years in 2005 to 37 years in 2016.
Despite rising mortgage rates, First American's chief economist feels the strong economy will support demand: "While the pace of sales may initially slow, home buyers typically adjust to the new rate environment."
REVIEW OF LAST WEEK
HOT QUARTER, COOL WEEK... Stocks wrapped up Q3 posting their hottest quarterly gains since 2013, though the Dow and the S&P 500 cooled for the week, while the Nasdaq stayed warm.
Dampening the festivities were trade worries, rising oil prices and Italy's projected deficit increasing to 2.4% of GDP. We also had the expected quarter percent hike from the Fed who say they'll proceed at a moderate pace.
Meanwhile, the economy booms: GDP growth at 4.2% in Q2 and on track for the best year since 2005; personal income up 4.7% the past year; and the National Federation of Independent Business optimism index at a 35-year high.
The week ended with the Dow down 1.1%, to 26458; the S&P 500 down 0.5%, to 2914; but the Nasdaq was UP 0.7%, to 8046.
Bonds benefited with the flight to quality from Italy's molto grande deficit. The 30YR FNMA 4.0% bond ended UP .07, at $100.91. Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey reported the national average 30-year fixed mortgage rate up again. Remember, mortgage rates can be extremely volatile, so check with your mortgage professional for up-to-the-minute information.
DID YOU KNOW?... The National Association of Realtors reports that in 2017 only 9% of buyers found their agents online, the same as in 2008. Despite their growing online activities, 91% of buyers still hire agents through personal referrals.
THIS WEEK'S FORECAST
THE BEAT GOES ON: MANUFACTURING, SERVICES, JOBS ALL GAIN... Economists predict the ISM Manufacturing and ISM Services indexes will show strong expansion in September, though slightly less than the month prior. They also expect Hurricane Florence to temporarily trim growth in Nonfarm Payrolls, but still see more than 180,000 new jobs created.
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 higher loan rates.
FEDERAL RESERVE WATCH
Forecasting Federal Reserve policy changes in coming months... The futures market expects last week's rate hike to hold in November, with another small hike in December which will hold in January. Note: In the lower chart, a 1% probability of change is a 99% probability the rate will stay the same.