By: Fred Arnold
Traders had no shortage of economic data and relevant economic news to trade on this week. The stock market was more volatile this week than we have seen in quite a while. The little bit of irony that comes with it is that despite some of the daily wild swings in the DOW, the index is sitting fairly close to where it started the week.
Housing was one of the more prominent data sectors seeing reports for the week. The first report for the week on Monday was the new home sales data for December.
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The annual rate of home sales plunged by 31,000 from November to December. A decline in December is typically not much of a concern as end of the year sales typically slow. However, what was also reported was that September and October's numbers were adjusted downward by a total of 30,000. With 3 months of consecutive declines, we now have a trend in new home sales that is negative.
This is a stark reversal from the first half of 2013 where new home sales grew every month. The decline in sales gave a lift to supply, which is now at 5.0 months versus 4.7 months in November. Some analysts believe that higher interest rates and bad December weather are playing a role in the large decline in new home sales.
Tuesday the Case-Shiller Home Value Index reinforced that the hot market of the summer has eased slightly. In October, home values increased a strong 1.1%. In November, value jumps cooled slightly only increasing .9% for the 20-city index. Price gains were experienced in all 20 cities that make up the index. Home values are still significantly higher than the same time in the prior year by 13.7%.
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The final housing report for the week was the pending home sales index. On Thursday, the index showed a decline of 8.7%. As with new home sales, it is typical to see a decline in sales for the month of December. The concerning part is that the decline was much greater than anticipated.
Bad weather in the North East as well as abnormally cold temperatures throughout most of the nation is believed to have played a significant role in the decline. Lack of available home inventory together with a continued weak labor market are factors that also more than likely contributed to the decline.
Next week potential market moving reports are on the lighter side once again.
- Monday February 3rd - ISM Manufacturing and Construction Spending
- Wednesday February 5th - MBA Applications and ADP Employment Report
- Thursday February 6th - First Time Jobless Claims
- Friday February 7th - National Employment
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