Last week’s economic reports included readings on U.S. housing markets, housing starts and building permits, and the scheduled post-meeting statement from the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve. Data on sales of previously owned homes were released along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims.
National Association of Home Builders: Rising Mortgage Rates Shake Builder Confidence
Homebuilders lost confidence in U.S. housing market conditions in September. September’s index reading was 45 as compared to the expected reading of 49.5 and August’s reading of 50. The combination of rising mortgage rates and high home prices presented obstacles to first-time and moderate-income buyers, while homeowners delayed listing homes for sale while awaiting lower mortgage rates. Low inventories of previously owned homes for sale drove would-be buyers to consider purchasing new homes.
Home builders offered price cuts averaging 25 percent to buyers in August; the price cuts were deeper in September with cuts averaging 32 percent. The NAHB said 59 percent of home builders offered buyer incentives other than price cuts.
Building Permits Rise as Housing Starts Fall in August
The Commerce Department reported 1.54 million building permits issued in August as compared to 1.44 million permits issued in July. The August reading exceeded analysts’ expectations of 1.45 million building permits issued in August. Housing starts fell to 1.28 million starts in August as compared to July’s reading of 1.44 million starts and the expected reading of 1.43 million housing starts in August.
Sales of previously owned homes fell to 4.04 million sales in August as compared to July’s reading of 4.07 million sales and the expected reading of 4.10 million sales.
Fed Leaves Key Interest Rate Range Unchanged
The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve announced its decision to leave the federal funds rate range unchanged at 5.25 to 5.50 percent, but policymakers hinted at another rate hike before the end of 2023. FOMC members review a variety of domestic and global financial and economic data to inform their decision-making process.
Mortgage Rates Rise, Jobless Claims Fall
Freddie Mac reported fixed mortgage rates above 7 percent last week. The average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages was one basis point higher at 7.19 percent. The average rate for 15-year mortgages rose by three basis points to 6.54 percent.
First-time jobless claims fell to 201,000 claims last week as compared to the previous week’s reading of 221,000 new claims and the expected reading of 225,000 claims filed.
This week’s scheduled economic reporting includes readings on new home sales, S&P Case-Shiller home price indices, the Federal Reserve Chair’s speech, and reports on inflation. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.