Last week's economic news included Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports, pending home sales, and consumer confidence readings. Weekly readings on average mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released
Case-Shiller: Home Prices Higher in January
According to Case-Shiller reports released last Tuesday, average home prices increased in January. The national average home price rose 0.20 percent from December to January; year over year, home prices grew by 5.90 percent. Home prices were 0.90 percent higher on a month-to-month basis when seasonally adjusted. The West continued to dominate home price growth. Seattle, Washington reported 11.20 percent growth in home prices year-over-year. Portland, Oregon reported year-over-year home price growth of 9.70 percent and Denver, Colorado reported that home prices grew by 9.20 percent year-over-year.
San Francisco, which posted double-digit home price growth in recent months, posted year-over-year home price growth of 6.20 percent. Home prices declined 0.40 percent month-to-month. While short supplies of homes for sale continued to drive up home prices, slower home price growth rates in San Francisco, California posted fell by 0.40 percent month to month and were 6.30 percent higher year-over-year. San Francisco posted double-digit year-over-year growth in recent months; slower home price growth over a period of months could signal a cooling of red-hot home prices in high-demand markets.
The three cities with lowest home price growth rates were Cleveland, Ohio and Washington, DC, where home prices rose 3.90 percent year-over-year. New-York City posted a year-over-year gain of 3.20 percent.
Pending Home Sales Rebound in February, Mortgage Rates Drop
The National Association of Realtors® said that pending home sales reached their second highest reading in ten years. Pending home sales rose 5.50 percent in February as compared to January's negative reading of -2.80 percent. The Pending Home Sales Index rose to 112.30 in February as compared to January's reading of 106.40. Unseasonably warm weather, home buyers rushing to buy before mortgage rates and home prices go higher. Improved jobs markets and few layoffs were also seen as boosting consumer confidence in buying homes.
Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by nine basis points to 4.14 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was five basis points lower at 3.39 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage was six basis points lower at 3.18 points. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
Lower mortgage rates could help first-time buyers who've been sidelined due to rapidly increasing home prices and mortgage rates.
In other news, new jobless claims were lower than last were with 258,000 new claims filed as compared to last week's reading of 261,000 new jobless claims. Analysts expected a reading of 247,000 new claims filed. Spring holidays and school vacations can create additional volatility in week-to-week first-time jobless claims.
Consumer sentiment index readings for March increased to 96.90 against expectations of a 97.60 index reading. February's index reading for consumer sentiment was 96.30
Next week's scheduled economic reports include readings on construction spending, ADP payrolls, Non-farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate. Mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.