|Markets were closed last Monday in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. As of Friday, 1/25/19, the US government shutdown was suspended for at least three weeks. The government shutdown has delayed the release of some economic indicators, including the new home sales report, for the second month in a row. Existing home sales declined in December, as expected. Both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions are down. Home prices have appreciated. Jobless claims continue to hit record lows, except for furloughed federal employees seeking separate federal aid.
- Existing home sales declined in December, down 6.4% month-over-month, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.99 million units. Based on the current sales pace, it would take 3.7 months to exhaust all available inventory.
- After a strong start in January, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey declined for the week ending 1/18. New purchase applications were down 2.0% and refinance applications were down 5.0% for a composite decrease of 2.7%.
- The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index tracks changes in the values of homes financed through conventional financing. In November, the FHFA house price index increased 0.4% month-over-month and 5.8% year-over-year, gaining some steam after several slower months.
- For the week ending 1/19, initial jobless claims fell to a level of 199,000, the lowest level since 1969. Continuing claims dropped to a level of 1.71 million. However, as the government shutdown continues, more and more federal workers are expected to apply for unemployment claims, through a separate government program. Federal claims usually come in at under 1,000 claims per week, but since the government shutdown over 40,000 furloughed workers have applied for benefits.
- The new home sales report was delayed due to the government shutdown.