Last week’s economic news included readings from the National Association of Home Builders on housing market conditions and Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.
NAHB: August Builder Confidence Fell to Lowest Level in 13 Months
Homebuilder confidence fell to its lowest level since July 2020 according to the National Association of Home Builder’s Housing Market Index for August. The HMI reading for August was 75; analysts expected a reading of 80 based on July’s index reading of 80. Readings over 50 represent positive sentiment among homebuilders surveyed. Ongoing obstacles to builder confidence included high materials costs, supply chain issues, and lack of skilled labor. Shortages of available homes and rapidly rising home prices sidelined buyers and dampened builder confidence.
Component readings of the Housing Market Index were lower in two categories as builder confidence slipped five points to an index reading of 81 for builder confidence in current market conditions and also fell five points to 60 for builder confidence in buyer traffic in new housing developments. Builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months was unchanged at an index reading of 81. Regional readings for builder confidence were also lower. The Midwestern region reported an index reading of 68 and was two points lower than in July. Builders in the Northeastern region reported their confidence reading slipped one point to 74. Homebuilder confidence in the South fell three points to 82; builder confidence in the West fell two points to an index reading of 85.
New home starts reflected builder hesitancy as they slipped from a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.64 million starts in June to 1.53 million starts in July. Building permits rose to a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 1.64 million permits issued in July as compared to June’s reading of 1.59 million building permits issued.
Mortgage Rates and Jobless Claims
Freddie Mac reported little change in average mortgage rates last week. Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.86 percent and were one basis point lower than for the previous week. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.16 percent and were one basis point higher. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged one basis point lower at 2.43 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.60 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.30 percent.
Fewer jobless claims were filed last week; 348,000 new claims were filed as compared to the previous week’s reading of 377,000 initial jobless claims filed. Continuing jobless claims also dropped last week with 2.82 million ongoing claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 2.90 million continuing jobless claims filed.
This week’s scheduled economic reports include reports on new and existing home sales, consumer spending, and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.