Housing Data

After last week’s packed economic calendar, this week there was virtually no significant news except for some housing market data. It was an extremely quiet week, and mortgage rates ended almost unchanged.

In May, sales of previously owned homes decreased slightly from April, and they were 3% lower than a year ago. The inventory of previously owned homes for sale rose 3% from April to a 4.1-month supply, but it was 6% lower than a year ago. Even with the increase, inventory levels remain very low by historical standards and are holding back sales. A 6.0-month supply is considered a healthy balance between buyers and sellers. The median home price was 5% higher than a year ago.

In an encouraging sign, home builders may be helping to address the shortage of inventory. In May, housing starts jumped a stronger than expected 5% from April, to the highest level since July 2007. Both single-family and multi-family units rose by a comparable amount. Despite rising labor and lumber costs, builders appear to be eager to supply more homes to the markets.

Looking ahead, New Home Sales will be released on Monday. Durable Orders, an important indicator of economic activity, and Pending Home Sales will come out on Wednesday. Core PCE, the inflation indicator favored by the Fed, will be released on Friday. In addition, Treasury auctions on Wednesday and Thursday could influence mortgage rates.

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