Economic Gibberish And What It Means To You
Year To Date Economic Report Translate Into English
Good News About The Economy
Retail sales rose 0.8% to $411.1 billion in March. This follows a downwardly revised 1% increase in February. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales increased 6.5%.
English translation: Retail sales are a strong component of the economic engine of our nation. Strong retail sales mean more production by manufacturers as consumers gobble-up their goods and services.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo monthly housing market index fell three points in April to 25 from a reading of 28 in March. It was the first drop after seven consecutive monthly gains. An index reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market.
The new homes market is stong and holding steady. New home sales also drive the economy because home building increases jobs, and drives production of durable goods, such as appliances, fixtures, and building components.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending April 13 rose 6.9%. Refinancing applications increased 13.5%. Purchase volume fell 11.2%.
This is a tricky one. The number of new home loans increased, but the total dollar volume of new loans was lower than last month. Got it? More loans, but 11.2% less total dollar volume. The number of folks who applied to refinance existing mortgages increased 13.5%, meaning fewer homes are "under water" and folks have enough equity to refinance their existing home loan to a lower interest rate.
By the way, the interest rate on a 15-year home loan hit an historic low this month, and we're seeing more and more folks applying for a 15-year mortgage
The combined construction of new single-family homes and apartments in March fell 5.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 654,000 units, after a decrease of 2.8% in February. Compared to a year ago, housing starts are up 10.3%. Applications for new building permits, seen as an indicator of future activity, rose 4.5% to an annual rate of 747,000 units.
This is another tricky one. Let me rephrase it for you. Housing starts were up 2.8% over 2011 in February. In March home starts were 5.85% off the 2.8% growth in february. For example, pretend for a moment that new home starts were up up by 280,000 over last February. in March, starts were 5.8% off, or 16,240 new starts in March. No big deal.
Existing home sales fell 2.6% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.48 million units from an upwardly revised 4.6 million units in February. The inventory of unsold homes on the market decreased 1.3% to 2.37 million, a 6.3-month supply at the current sales pace.
This is another tricky one, because it lumps all national home sales into one bucket, then measures the contents of that bucket. Home sales are all local. When we look at the "Sand States", Nevada, Califirnia, Arizona, and Florida, we see home sales in those states in the toilet. When we look at the Washington DC area, home sales across the spectrum of prices are on fire... multiple bids and bids over list price are common.
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Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending April 14 fell by 2,000 to 386,000. Continuing claims for the week ending April 7 rose by 26,000 to 3.29 million.
Unemployment rates are a leading indicator of home loan rates. A rise in unemployment means lower rates.
A big "Thank You" goes out to David Solyment for providing the gibberish for me to translate into English.
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