Monday, June 22, 2015

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index: May 2015

The latest release of the Chicago Federal Reserve National Activity Index (CFNAI) indicated that the national economic activity remained weak in May with the index rising slightly to a level of -0.17 from a level of -0.19 in April while the three month moving average also improved slightly to a tepid level of -0.16.

The CFNAI is a weighted average of 85 indicators of national economic activity collected into four overall categories of “production and income”, “employment, unemployment and income”, “personal consumption and housing” and “sales, orders and inventories”.

The Chicago Fed regards a value of zero for the total index as indicating that the national economy is expanding at its historical trend rate while a negative value indicates below average growth.

A value at or below -0.70 for the three month moving average of the national activity index (CFNAI-MA3) indicates that the national economy has either just entered or continues in recession.

Existing Home Sales Report: May 2015

Today, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their Existing Home Sales Report for May showing strong sales with total home sales rising 5.1% since April and climbing 9.2% above the level seen in May 2014.

Single family home sales also increased with sales rising 5.6 from April but and climbing 9.7% above the level seen in May 2014 while the median selling price increased 8.6% above the level seen a year earlier.

Inventory of single family homes increased from April to 2.03 million units rising 1.5% above the level seen in May 2014 which, along with the sales pace, resulted in a monthly supply of 5.2 months.

The following charts (click for full-screen dynamic version) shows national existing single family home sales, median home prices, inventory and months of supply since 2005.



Tuesday, June 16, 2015

New Residential Construction Report: May 2015

Today’s New Residential Construction Report showed mixed results with total permit activity increasing 11.8% since April while total starts declined 11.1% over the same period.

Single family housing permits, the most leading of indicators, increased 2.6% from April to 683K single family units (SAAR), and rose 9.1% above the level seen a year earlier but still remained well below levels seen at the peak in September 2005.


Friday, June 05, 2015

Employment Situation: Nonfarm Payrolls and Civilian Unemployment May 2015

Today's Employment Situation Report indicated that in May, net non-farm payrolls increased by a notable 280,000 jobs overall with the private non-farm payrolls sub-component adding 262,000 jobs while the civilian unemployment rate increased slightly to 5.5% over the same period.

Net private sector jobs increased 0.22% since last month climbing 2.53% above the level seen a year ago and climbing 3.52% above the peak level of employment seen in December 2007 prior to the Great Recession.

Employment Situation: Unemployment Duration May 2015

Today's employment situation report showed that conditions for the long term unemployed improved in May while still remaining distressed by historic standards.

Workers unemployed 27 weeks or more declined to 2.502 million or 28.6% of all unemployed workers while the median term of unemployment declined to 11.6 weeks and the average stay on unemployment declined to 30.7 weeks.



Employment Situation: Total Unemployment May 2015

Today's Employment Situation report showed that in May “total unemployment” including all marginally attached workers remained unchanged at 10.8% while the traditionally reported unemployment rate increased slightly to 5.5%.

The traditional unemployment rate is calculated from the monthly household survey results using a fairly explicit definition of “unemployed” (essentially unemployed and currently looking for full time employment) leaving many workers to be considered effectively “on the margin” either employed in part time work when full time is preferred or simply unemployed and no longer looking for work.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics considers “marginally attached” workers (including discouraged workers) and persons who have settled for part time employment to be “underutilized” labor.

The broadest view of unemployment would include both traditionally unemployed workers and all other underutilized workers.

To calculate the “total” rate of unemployment we would simply use this larger group rather than the smaller and more restrictive “unemployed” group used in the traditional unemployment rate calculation.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

New Home Sales: April 2015

Today, the U.S. Census Department released its monthly New Residential Home Sales Report for April showing sales jumped a notable 6.8% from March rising 26.1% above the level seen in April 2014 but still remaining near an historically low level with 517K SAAR units.

The monthly supply declined to 4.8 months while the median selling price increased 8.31% and the average selling price increased 5.04% from the year ago level.

The following chart show the extent of sales decline to date (click for full-larger version).

FHFA Monthly Home Prices: March 2015

Today, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released the latest results of their monthly house price index (HPI) showing that in March, nationally, home prices increased 0.34% from February rising 5.16% above the level seen in March 2014.

The FHFA monthly HPI are formulated from home purchase information collected from mortgages that have been sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

S&P/Case-Shiller: March 2015

Today's release of the S&P/Case-Shiller (CSI) home price indices for March reported that the non-seasonally adjusted National index increased from February with prices rising 0.80% while the non-seasonally adjusted Composite-10 city index increased 0.80% and the Composite-20 city index increased 0.92% over the same period.

On an annual basis, the National index increased 4.14% above the level seen in March 2014 while the Composite-10 city index increased 4.75% and the Composite-20 city index increased 5.04% over the same period.

On a peak basis, all three indices still show significant peak declines slumping 8.99% for the National index, -16.02% for the Composite-10 city index and -15.17% for the Composite-20 city index on a peak comparison basis.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Reading Rates: MBA Application Survey – May 20 2015

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) publishes the results of a weekly applications survey that covers roughly 50 percent of all residential mortgage originations and tracks the average interest rate for 30 year and 15 year fixed rate mortgages as well as the volume of both purchase and refinance applications.

The purchase application index has been highlighted as a particularly important data series as it very broadly captures the demand side of residential real estate for both new and existing home purchases.

The latest data is showing that the average rate for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage (from FHA and conforming GSE data) increased 4 basis points to 3.96% (average of all fixed rate loans... 30 year conforming loan rate reached 4.04% over the same period) since last week while the purchase application volume decreased 4% and the refinance application volume increased 0.3% over the same period.

The following chart shows the average interest rate for 30 year and 15 year fixed rate mortgages since 2006 as well as the purchase, refinance and composite loan volumes (click for larger dynamic full-screen version).




New Residential Construction Report: April 2015

Yesterday’s New Residential Construction Report showed notably improving results with total permit activity increasing 10.1% since March while total starts increased a whopping 20.2% over the same period.

Single family housing permits, the most leading of indicators, increased 3.7% from March to 666K single family units (SAAR), and rose 7.1% above the level seen a year earlier but still remained well below levels seen at the peak in September 2005.


NAHB/Wells Fargo Home Builder Sentiment: May 2015

Recently, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) released their latest Housing Market Index (HMI) showing that overall assessments of housing activity declined in May with the composite HMI index falling to 54 while the "buyer traffic" index declined to a level of 39 from 40 in the prior month.

Overall, conditions for new home construction appear to have softened some recently and still remain below the peak assessments see prior to the Great Recession.




Tuesday, April 28, 2015

S&P/Case-Shiller: February 2015

Today's release of the S&P/Case-Shiller (CSI) home price indices for February reported that the non-seasonally adjusted National index increased from January with prices rising 0.14% while the non-seasonally adjusted Composite-10 city index increased 0.53% and the Composite-20 city index increased 0.50% over the same period.

On an annual basis, the National index increased 4.22% above the level seen in February 2014 while the Composite-10 city index increased 4.81% and the Composite-20 city index increased 5.03% over the same period.

On a peak basis, all three indices still show significant peak declines slumping 9.65% for the National index, -16.65% for the Composite-10 city index and -15.91% for the Composite-20 city index on a peak comparison basis.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index: March 2015

The latest release of the Chicago Federal Reserve National Activity Index (CFNAI) indicated that the national economic activity weakened in March with the index falling to a level of -0.42 from a level of -0.18 in February while the three month moving average also declined to a level of -0.27.

The CFNAI is a weighted average of 85 indicators of national economic activity collected into four overall categories of “production and income”, “employment, unemployment and income”, “personal consumption and housing” and “sales, orders and inventories”.

The Chicago Fed regards a value of zero for the total index as indicating that the national economy is expanding at its historical trend rate while a negative value indicates below average growth.

A value at or below -0.70 for the three month moving average of the national activity index (CFNAI-MA3) indicates that the national economy has either just entered or continues in recession.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Reading Rates: MBA Application Survey – April 08 2015

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) publishes the results of a weekly applications survey that covers roughly 50 percent of all residential mortgage originations and tracks the average interest rate for 30 year and 15 year fixed rate mortgages as well as the volume of both purchase and refinance applications.

The purchase application index has been highlighted as a particularly important data series as it very broadly captures the demand side of residential real estate for both new and existing home purchases.

The latest data is showing that the average rate for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage (from FHA and conforming GSE data) declined 5 basis points to 3.79% since last week while the purchase application volume increased 7% and the refinance application volume declined 3% over the same period.

The following chart shows the average interest rate for 30 year and 15 year fixed rate mortgages since 2006 as well as the purchase, refinance and composite loan volumes (click for larger dynamic full-screen version).