Housing Starts Take a Breather by Ron Schulz

For the week of March 19, 2018 — Vol. 16, Issue 12

>> Market Update

QUOTATION OF THE WEEK…“Ask five economists and you’ll get five different answers–six if one went to Harvard.” –Edgar Fiedler, American economist

INFO THAT HITS US WHERE WE LIVE… After a spectacular January, Housing Starts took a break in February, dipping 7.0%, to a 1.236 million annual rate, all due to multi-families. Starts are still close to a post-recession high, single-family starts up 2.9% for the month and 2.9% for the year.

Building Permits also fell for the month, but gained for the year, 4.6% for single-families, 10.6% for multi-families. So the future looks bright, with the National Association of Home Builders sentiment index historically high, though it slipped slightly for the month.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that in 2017, 34% of all home purchases were made by Millennials, giving that generation the highest share of home buyers five years in a row. They’re also the most likely group to purchase through an agent.

BUSINESS TIP OF THE WEEK… To stand out as an expert, really dig into what you need to know. If you just scan the headlines, you’ll only get what everyone else does–an incomplete story, missing important details. Take the time to digest all the info you can. 

>> Review of Last Week

UP FINISH TO A DOWN WEEK… A volatile week on Wall Street ended with the three major indexes down, although Friday’s economic data sent stock prices back up. Trade war worries and personnel changes at Secretary of State and chief economic adviser to the president drove the sell off.

Good economic reports included Industrial Production rising at its fastest pace in four months, while University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment shot up to a 14-year high, its 102 reading well above the long-term average of 86.

Small business optimism is at its second highest lever ever, and the CEO Confidence survey hit 63, well into positive territory above 50. Even a dip in Retail Sales was positive, showing the economy isn’t so hot that the Fed will need more than three planned rate hikes this year.

The week ended with the Dow down 1.5%, to 24947; the S&P 500 down 1.2%, to 2752; and the Nasdaq down 1.0%, to 7482.

For the most part, it was prices down, yields up in the bond market, hinting rates may rise. The 30YR FNMA 4.0%, bond we watch ended the week down .02, at $102.36. But national average 30-year fixed mortgage rates actually fell for the first time in 2018 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?… J.D. Power reports that 2017 was the first year purchase and refinance customers cited online/website as the most frequent method of submitting a mortgage application.

>> This Week’s Forecast

NEW AND EXISTING HOME SALES GROW, THE FED TAKES A HIKE Analysts say we’ll see Existing Home Sales inch toward the 5.5 Million annual rate, and New Home Sales back over 600,000 per year. Almost everyone expects the Fed to take a quarter percent hike in their FOMC Rate Decision.

>> The Week’s Economic Indicator Calendar

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.

Economic Calendar for the Week of Mar 19 – Mar 23

Date Time (ET) Release For Consensus Prior Impact
Mar 21
10:00 Existing Home Sales Feb 5.42M 5.38M Moderate
Mar 21
10:30 Crude Inventories 03/17 NA +5.0M Moderate
Mar 21
14:00 FOMC Rate Decision Mar 1.50%- 1.75% 1.25%- 1.50% HIGH
Mar 22
08:30 Initial Unemployment Claims 03/17 225K 226K Moderate
Mar 22
08:30 Continuing Unemployment Claims 03/10 NA 1.879M Moderate
Mar 22
10:00 Leading Economic Index (LEI) Feb 0.5% 1.0% Moderate
Mar 23
08:30 Durable Goods Orders Feb 1.5% -3.7% Moderate
Mar 23
08:30 Durable Goods Orders – ex transportation Feb 0.6% -0.3% Moderate
Mar 23
10:00 New Home Sales Feb 620K 593K Moderate


>> Federal Reserve Watch

Forecasting Federal Reserve policy changes in coming months… The Fed futures market sees a quarter percent rate hike this Wednesday, nothing in May and then another quarter percent increase in June Note: In the lower chart, a 94% probability of change is a 94% certainty the rate will move higher.

Current Fed Funds Rate: 1.25%-1.50%

After FOMC meeting on: Consensus
Mar 21 1.50%-1.75%
May 2 1.50%-1.75%
Jun 13 1.75%-2.00%


Probability of change from current policy:

After FOMC meeting on: Consensus
Mar 21        94%
May 2        11%
Jun 13        70%
  Ron Schulz
Senior Loan Officer
NMLS# 266128

6060 North Central Exp #438
Dallas, TX 75206

Office: 214-346-5279
Mobile: 214-794-4014

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