Case-Shiller: Home Prices Continue to Outpace Inflation

You Ask, We Answer: How the New FICO Score System Might Impact a Typical Mortgage BorrowerDenver, Colorado continues to woo homebuyers as home prices rose by 10.20 percent as of June according to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index. The Mile-High City was the only city included in the index that posted double-digit year-over-year growth in June. San Francisco, California posted a 9.50 percent year-over-year gain in home prices and Dallas, Texas rounds out the top three cities posting highest year-over-year home price growth with a reading of 8.20 percent.

Denver’s home prices were impacted by the city’s rapidly expanding economy and demand for homes coupled with a slim supply of homes for sale. According to the National Association of Realtors®, there is approximately one month’s inventory of homes available in Denver as compared to the national average of five months. 

Cities experiencing the least year-over-year growth in home prices according to the 20-City Home Price Index were Chicago, Illinois with a year-over-year growth rate of 1.40 percent, Washington D.C. with a year-over-year reading of 1.60 percent in home price growth and New York, New York with a reading of 2.80 percent growth in home prices year-over-year.

The 20-City Index indicated national home prices grew by five percent year-over-year in June, with a month-to-month increase of one percent from May to June.

Detroit Leads Gains in Month-to-Month Home Prices 

Detroit, Michigan led month-over-month home price growth with a May to June reading of 1.80 percent. Cleveland, Ohio and Portland Oregon posted month-to-month gains of 1.50 percent followed by Atlanta, Georgia and Denver Colorado; each city posted month-to-month home price gains of 1.30 percent. 

As economic conditions continue to improve, prospective homebuyers face obstacles including tight mortgage approval standards and home prices growing at approximately twice the rate of inflation.

FHFA: Home Prices Dip in June

The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that home prices associated with mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac slipped to a year-over year growth rate of 5.60 percent in June as compared to May’s reading of 5.70 percent. The agency also reported that home prices rose by 1.20 percent during the second quarter of 2015; this was the sixteenth consecutive quarterly increase in home prices.

FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis noted that home prices continued to exceed inflation and were rising in spite of higher mortgage rates.

In general, analysts regard longer term readings as more reliable than month-to-month readings that reflect more volatility based on day-to-day influences.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 24, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week August 24 2015Last week’s economic events included a number of readings on housing related topics. The National Association of Home Builders released its report on builder confidence in housing markets, Housing starts reached their highest level since the great recession, and existing home sales exceeded expectations and the prior month’s reading. The Federal Reserve released minutes for its most recent FOMC meeting, which indicated that while a majority of FOMC members are leaning toward raising the Fed’s target federal funds rate, concerns over certain aspects of the economy continue to keep the Fed from citing a date for raising its target interest rate.

Home Builder Confidence Nears Highest Reading in 10 Years

The National Association of Home Builders reported its highest level of builder confidence in housing market conditions since November of 2005. August’s reading was 61 as compared to an expected reading of 59 and July’s reading of 60. Any reading over 50 indicates that housing market conditions are good. NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said that August’s readings were consistent with builder expectations of gradual improvement in overall housing market conditions. Builder confidence in current market conditions rose by one point to a reading of 61; confidence in buyer foot traffic in new housing developments rose 2 points to 45 and the reading for expected home sales conditions over the next six months was unchanged at a reading of 70.

Builder confidence as shown by the three-month rolling average indicated that builder confidence increased by three points for a reading of 63 for the West; the Midwest also posted a gain of three points for a reading of 58. The South posted a two point gain in builder confidence for a reading of 63. In the Northeast, builder confidence held steady at 46.

Existing Home Sales Hit New Post-Recession High in July

According to the National Association of Realtors®, sales of pre-owned homes reached a new post-recession record in July. Sales of previously owned homes rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.59 million sales as compared to expectations of 5.48 million sales and June’s reading of 5.48 million sales. Sales of existing homes have risen for three consecutive months and are 10.30 percent higher year-over-year. Higher home prices are helping homeowners move up to larger homes, but analysts said that first-time buyers are still struggling to buy due to strict mortgage requirements and high demand for homes.

Commerce Department: Housing Starts Higher, Building Permits Lower

The Commerce Department reported that June housing starts increased from 1.20 million in May to 1.21 million in June; this is a month-to-month increase of 0.20 percent. Economists had expected a dip in housing starts to a rate of 1.185 million on an annual basis. Single family housing starts rose by 12.90 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 782,000 starts.

Building permits slipped in July by 16.30 percent to an annual rate of 1.29 million permits issued. Permits for single family homes, which account for nearly 75 percent of permits issued, fell by 1.90 percent to an annual rate of 679,000 permits issued. Demand for multi-family homes such as condos and apartments is rising as would-be home buyers sit on the sidelines and many millennials prefer to rent. In spite of these factors the rate of building permits issued rose by 7.50 percent year-over-year.

Building permits issued rose by 7.70 percent in the South, and rose by 20 percent in the Midwest. In the West, permits issued declined by 3.10 percent in July, while the Northeast posted a decline of 27.50 percent in building permits issued. This was not a surprise as builders rushed to take out permits before a tax credit expired in June.

Mortgage Rates Mixed

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates fell for fixed rate mortgages and ticked upward for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by one basis point to 3.93 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates fell by two basis points to 3.15 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 2.94 percent. Discount points were unchanged across the board at 0.60 percent for 30 and 15-year fixed rates and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic news includes the Case-Shiller 10 and 20 city home price index reports, FHFA’s house price report for home sales connected with mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and pending home sales. Core inflation numbers will also be released; this is significant as the Fed has set 2.0 percent annual inflation as one of its indicators for raising the Federal funds rate. Freddie Mac’s survey of average mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims will be released on Thursday, and this week wraps up with the consumer sentiment report on Friday.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 17, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week August 17 2015Last week’s economic reports related to housing were few and far between other than weekly reports on new jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates survey.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, Jobless Claims Up

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose for fixed rate mortgages and dropped for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by three basis points to 3.94 percent. The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by four basis points to 3.17 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 2.93 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and rose from 0.40 percent to 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Jobless claims rose to 274,000 last week from the prior week’s reading of 269,000 new jobless claims filed. Analysts expected a reading of 270,000 new jobless claims. New claims were lower by 1750 claims for the past month at a seasonally adjusted rate of 266,250 new jobless claims. This was the lowest level since April of 2000. Analysts consider the four week average a less volatile reading for new jobless claims than weekly readings, which fluctuate more due to transitory influences.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled reports include several releases related to housing. Expected releases include: the National Association of Homebuilders Housing Market Index, Commerce Department reports on Housing Starts and Building Permits and the National Association of Realtors® report on sales of previously owned homes.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 10, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week August 10 2015This week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on construction spending, a survey of senior loan officers, and reports on labor markets including ADP private sector jobs, the federal government’s reports on non-farm payrolls, core inflation and the national unemployment rate.

Construction Spending Slows, Loan Officers Survey Suggests Growing Confidence

Construction spending fell in June after the May reading was revised upward to 1.89 percent from the original reading of 0.90 percent. Spending for residential construction rose by 0.40 percent, while non-residential construction spending remained flat. The seasonally-adjusted annual outlay for construction was $1.06 billion in June.

Analysts continue to note a trend toward construction of smaller residential units including condominiums and apartments, with an emphasis on rental properties. This supports reports that would-be homebuyers are taking a wait-and-see stance to see how factors including rising home prices, fluctuating mortgage rates and labor market conditions perform.

According to a survey of senior loan officers conducted by the Federal Reserve, mortgage lenders reported that mortgage applications increased during the second quarter and indicating that financial constraints on consumers may be easing. According to the survey of 71 domestic banks and 23 foreign-owned banks, 44 percent of respondents reported moderate increases in loan applications, while only 5 percent of survey participants reported fewer loan applications.

Some banks surveyed reported easing mortgage approval standards, but fewer lenders eased standards than in the first quarter. Further supporting growing confidence among lenders, the Fed survey also reported that large banks were easing consumer credit standards for auto loans and credit cards.

Mortgage Rates Fall, Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates fell across the board last week with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage lower by seven basis points to 3.91 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.13 percent, and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 2.95 percent. Discount points for all loan types were unchanged at 0.60 percent for 30 and 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Weekly jobless claims rose from the prior week’s reading of 268,000 new claims to 270,000 new claims, which matched analysts’ expectations. In other labor-related news, the government reported a national unemployment rate of 5.30 percent in July; this was unchanged from June’s reading.

The ADP employment report for July showed fewer jobs were available in the private sector. June’s reading showed that private sector jobs grew by 229,000 jobs; July’s reading fell to 185,000 private sector jobs. According to July’s Non-farm Payrolls report, 215,000 new jobs were added in July as compared to expectations of 220,000 jobs added and June’s reading of 231,000 new jobs added.

The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is closely monitoring job growth and inflation rates as it contemplates raising the target federal funds rate. Core inflation grew by 0.10 percent in June; which was consistent with May’s reading and expectations. The FOMC recently cited the committee’s concerns about labor markets and lagging inflation. The Fed has set an annual growth rate of 1.65 percent for inflation for the medium term; this benchmark is part of what the Fed will consider in any decision to raise rates.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include reports on retail sales and consumer sentiment in addition to usual weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

 

 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 27, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week July 27 2015Last week’s scheduled economic news releases were limited as no news was released on Monday or Tuesday, but good news did arrive in the form of a dip in mortgage rates for fixed rate loans. The National Association of Realtors® reported higher sales of pre-owned homes and FHFA reported that home price growth associated with mortgages held or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac held steady in May.

Sales of Pre-Owned Homes and FHFA House Prices Rise

According to the National Association of Realtors®, June sales of existing homes reached their highest level since February 2007. Sales of used homes reached a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.47 million previously owned homes sold against expectations of 5.42 million homes and May’s reading of 5.32 million pre-owned homes sold. By comparison, sales of existing homes remain about 24 percent below a pre-recession peak. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors® cited improving labor markets and home buyer concerns over rising mortgage rates as factors contributing to May’s reading for existing home sales.

FHFA, the federal agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that home prices associated with sales of homes financed with loans owned or backed by Fannie and Freddie rose by 0.40 percent month-over-month in May and held steady with April’s revised reading of 0.40 percent. FHFA home prices rose by 5.70 percent year-over-year in May.

Mortgage Rates Mixed

Freddie Mac reported that average rates for 30 and 15-year mortgages fell while the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage ticked upward by one basis point. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by five basis points to 4.04 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.21 percent. The rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate rose by one basis point to 2.97 percent. Average discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent, 0.60 percent and 0.50 percent respectively.

Expected reports on weekly jobless claims and new home sales were not released last week.

What’s Ahead

Scheduled economic reports for this week include the usual weekly reports on jobless claims and mortgage rates along with the Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports for May and the Commerce Department’s report on pending home sales. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve has scheduled an announcement on Wednesday, and reports on consumer confidence and consumer sentiment will also be released next week.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 20, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week July 13 2015Last week’s economic news included an encouraging report from the National Association of Home Builders, whose housing market index held steady with a reading of 60 in July. This was the 13th consecutive month for readings over 50, which indicate that more builders are confident about housing markets than those who are not. July’s reading was noteworthy as it was the highest since November 2005 prior to the recession.

Housing Starts, Building Permits Increase

The Commerce Department provided further evidence of stronger housing markets with reports on housing starts and building permits issued in June. Housing starts rose from May’s reading of 1.07 million to 1.17 million, which surpassed the expected reading of 1.11 million housing starts.

May’s reading for housing starts was revised from 1.04 million to 1.07 million an annual basis.

Construction of apartments and other multifamily housing complexes attained their highest level since 1987, which supports reported trends that millennials who prefer to live in larger cities are renting rather than buying homes. Housing starts gained nearly 10 percent between May and June. Would-be home buyers are also renting due to tighter mortgage approval standards; others may be “sitting on the fence” as they wait for further indications of stronger labor markets and improvements in overall economic conditions.

Building permits issued in June supported trends in housing starts, with permits for multi-family housing units higher by 16. 10 percent and was the highest reading for multi-family building permits since 1990. Analysts said that the increase in multifamily building permits was in caused by the pending expiration of a tax credit for builders in New York State that was set to expire June 30.

Permits for single family homes rose only 0.90 percent in June, to an annual pace of 689,000 but this was still the highest reading for single family housing permits since 2008.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.09 percent and was higher by five basis points. The average rate for a 15-year mortgage was also five basis points higher at 3.25 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was up by three basis points to 2.96 percent. Discount points were 0.60 percent for 15 and 30 year mortgages and 0.50 percent for 6/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims fell to 281,000 last week against the prior week’s reading of 296,000 new claims and an expected reading of 285,000 new jobless claims. Analysts said that the current reading indicates that last week’s spike in new unemployment claims was a false alarm. Seasonal anomalies and re-tooling at some auto plants were cited as causes for the prior week’s high reading. New jobless claims have remained under the benchmark reading of 300,000 since February for the longest consecutive period in 15 years.

Last week’s reports ended with the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index, which fell from June’s reading of 96.1 to 93.3; analysts expected a reading of 95.0.

What’s Ahead

Scheduled economic reports for next week include new and existing home sales, and FHFA home prices along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 13, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week July 13 2015Last week’s scheduled economic events were few due to the Independence Day holiday. Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of mortgage rates brought good news as mortgage rates fell across the board. The Federal Reserve released the minutes of its most recent Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting and weekly jobless claims rose.

Job Openings Rise to Highest Level Since 2000

The Labor Department reported that U.S. job openings rose from April’s reading of 5.33 million to 5.36 million job openings in May. This was the highest reading for job openings since the report’s inception in 2000. Private sector job openings rose to 4.85 million, an increase of 16 percent. Government jobs rose increased by 511,000 open jobs from April’s reading of 430,000 job openings. Based on the Labor Department’s report of 8.67 million unemployed workers, there were 1.60 job seekers for each job opening in May as compared to 2.10 job seekers for each job available in May 2014. There were approximately 1.80 job seekers for each job available when the recession started in December 2007.

FOMC Minutes: Fed Issues No Firm Date for Raising Rates

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve released the minutes of June’s FOMC meeting, during which nine of ten committee members indicated that they were not ready to raise the federal funds rate. One FOMC member indicated that they were willing to wait for another meeting or two to raise rates. While FOMC has hinted at the likelihood of raising rates this fall, committee members are wary of moving too quickly and cited developments in China and Greece as concerns that contributed to the committee’s current wait and see position. When the Fed does raise its target rates from 0.00 percent, consumers can expect higher mortgage and loan rates.

Freddie Mac: Mortgage Rates Fall, Jobless Claims Rise

Mortgage rates fizzled last week with Freddie Mac reporting average rates lower for all types of mortgages. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was four basis points lower at 4.04 percent and discount points unchanged at 0.60 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was also four basis points lower at 3.20 percent. Average discount points for a 15-year mortgage fell from 0.60 to 0.50 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by six basis points to 2.93 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.40 percent.

According to the Labor Department, weekly jobless claims rose to 297,000 new claims filed as compared to 282,000 new claims filed the previous week. There were no estimates for last week’s jobless claims due to the holiday.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include Retail Prices, Retail Prices Except Automotive and the NAHB Housing Market Index. The Commerce Department is set to release monthly readings for Housing Starts and Building Permits. In addition to Freddie Mac’s report on mortgage rates and the Labor Department’s report on new jobless claims, the University of Michigan will wrap up the week with its Consumer Sentiment report.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 6, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week July 6 2015

Last week’s housing-related economic events included the Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports for April, the Commerce Department’s Pending Home Sales report and a report on Construction Spending. In other economic news, Non-Farm Payrolls, the ADP Employment report and Consumer Confidence reports were released. Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates summary and the weekly unemployment claims report were released as usual.

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Slows in April

The Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index reported that year-over-year home prices slowed in April with a reading of 4.20 percent as compared to the March reading of 4.30 percent. David M Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Dow Jones Indices Committee, said that home prices continue to grow, but are not accelerating. According to the 20-City Index, home prices rose 1.10 percent from March to April and were bolstered by the onset of the spring selling season.

The Department of Commerce reported that pending home sales increased to their highest level in more than nine years in May. Pending home sales were 10.40 percent higher than they were in May 2014, which is a further indication of a stronger housing sector. Analysts consider pending home sales as an indicator of future closings and mortgage originations.

Construction Spending Lower, Mortgage Rates Higher

Construction spending dipped in May to 0.80 percent as compared to April’s reading of 2.10 percent; analysts had expected a reading of 0.50 percent in May. The outstanding news is that construction spending for manufacturing building is up by 70 percent year-over-year in May. While not directly connected to housing, this reading suggests that manufacturers are expanding their businesses and will likely expand hiring as well. Concerns over the labor market have kept many would-be home buyers on the sidelines, but improved hiring reports and wage increases are expected to compel more buyers to enter the housing market.

Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey brought another increase in average mortgage rates; the average rate for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage rose six basis points to 4.08 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by three basis points to 3.24 percent and the average rate for a 5/2 adjustable rate mortgage rose by one point to 2.99 percent. Discount points for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped from 0.70 percent to 0.60 percent and were unchanged for 16-year fixed rate mortgages at 0.60 percent and 0.40 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage.

Non-Farm Payrolls Lower; ADP Employment

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Non-farm Payrolls dropped to a reading of 223,000 new jobs added as compared to expectations of 225,000 new jobs added and 254,000 new jobs added in May. The ADP employment report, which tracks private-sector hiring, fared better with 237,000 new jobs posted as compared to 203,000 new private sector jobs added in May.

Weekly Jobless Claims Rise to Highest Level in Five Weeks

New claims for unemployment reached their highest reading in five weeks with 281,000 new claims filed against expectations of 275,000 new claims filed and the previous week’s reading of 271,000 jobless claims filed. The four week rolling average of new claims filed showed an increase of 1000 more claims filed for a reading of 274,750 new claims filed. Analysts said that new jobless claims remained below the 300,000 benchmark for the 17th consecutive week.

The Commerce Department reported that the National Unemployment Rate was lower at 5.30 percent as compared to an expected reading of 5.40 percent and May’s reading of 5.50 percent. June’s national unemployment rate was the lowest reading since 2008 and is a good sign that labor markets are steadily if slowly improving.

No economic reports were released Friday due to the Fourth of July holiday.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 29, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 29, 2015Last week’s economic news was largely positive as both new and existing home sales beat expectations. FHFA reported that home price growth held steady in May, while weekly jobless claims edged up, but were lower than expected.

New and Existing Home Sales Exceed Expectations

According to the Commerce Department, new home sales reached 546,000 on an annual basis for May. This surpassed expectations for 525,000 new homes sold and April’s revised reading of 534,000 new homes sold. Expectations were based on the original reading of 517,000 new homes sold in April.

Existing home sales rose by 5.10 percent in May to a seasonally-adjusted annual reading of 5.35 million sales and hit their highest level in five and a half years. The National Association of Realtors reported that this was the fastest pace of sales for previously-owned homes since November 2009. Expectations were based on an April’s original reading of 5.04 million sales, which was later revised to 5.09 million existing homes sold.

With wages and hiring picking up, more first-time buyers are expected to enter the market. Economists said there are signs that mortgage credit is becoming more available as lenders gain confidence in stronger economic conditions. A larger supply of available homes was also cited as driving sales of previously owned homes higher.

FHFA: Home Prices Show Steady Growth in May; Mortgage Rates Mixed

The Federal Finance Housing Agency (FHFA), the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that home prices related to mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac held steady with a growth rate of 5.30 percent year-over-year reported in May. This was the same year-over-year home price growth rate that the agency posted in April.

Freddie Mac reported mixed developments for mortgage rates. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 4.02 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 3.21 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage also fell by two basis points to 2.98 percent. Average discount points were 0.70, 0.60 and 0.40 percent respectively.

Last week’s economic reports ended on a high note with June’s Consumer Sentiment Index reporting a reading of 96.1 as compared to expectations of 94.6 and May’s reading of 94.6. All in all, last week’s economic news provided further indications of stronger economic conditions that should provide the confidence to ease mortgage credit requirements and enable more first-time buyers to purchase homes.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic reports include date on pending home sales, Case-Shiller’s Home Price Index reports and construction spending. The Bureau of Labor Statistics will also release the monthly Non-Farm Payrolls report and National Unemployment reports. No economic news is scheduled for Friday, July 3 due to the Independence Day holiday.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 8, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 8, 2015Last week’s economic news included reports on construction spending, Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates survey and several employment related reports. The details:

Construction Spending Jumps

The Commerce Department reported that construction spending reached its fastest annual pace since November 2008. Most of the momentum was caused by construction of apartments, commercial projects and roads, and construction of single family homes. Builders spent 2.20 percent more in April than they did in March, which equated to an annual outlay of $1.01 trillion for all types of construction spending. Analysts said that increased spending in construction indicated that the housing sector could see improvement as construction provides more jobs.

Mortgage Rates Mixed

Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of mortgage rates reported that average mortgage rates were mixed last week. Average rates were reported as follows: 30-year fixed rates were unchanged at 3.87 percent with discount points also unchanged at 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 3.11 percent to 3.08 percent with discount points unchanged at an average of 0.50 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by six basis points to 2.96 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent.

Employment Reports Suggest Stronger Labor Market

Several labor-related reports released last week suggest that job markets are gaining strength as they continue to improve. ADP, a private-sector payrolls company, reported 201,000 new jobs in May against April’s reading of 165,000 new jobs. The Labor Department released its Nonfarm Payrolls report for May and reported 280,000 new jobs against expectations of 210,000 new jobs and April’s reading of 221,000 new jobs.

Average hourly wages rose by 0.30 percent and surpassed expectations of a 0.20 percent increase and April’s reading of 0.10 percent. Although incremental, this suggests that labor markets are strengthening to a point where employers are comfortable with increasing wages.

Weekly Jobless claims were reported at 276,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 278,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 284,000 new jobless claims filed. The national unemployment rate for May ticked up to 5.50 percent from the prior month’s reading of 5.40 percent, but this reading remains below the Federal Reserve’s original benchmark of 6.50 percent for potentially raising the target federal funds rate. The Fed has not moved to change the rate, but analysts expect that this could occur by Fall if economic conditions hold steady.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic reports include job openings, retail sales, consumer sentiment along with the usual weekly reports on mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims.