Last week’s scheduled economic reporting included readings on home builder sentiment, housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and initial jobless claims were also released.
NAHB: Homebuilder Confidence Crashes as Coronavirus Impacts Construction
Homebuilder sentiment concerning housing market conditions dropped significantly in April according to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index.
April’s index reading of 30 was the largest month-to-month drop recorded since the Housing Market Index started 30 years ago. Homebuilder confidence was 42 points lower than the March reading of 72 and was the lowest reading since June 2012.
Index readings over 50 indicate that most builders are confident in current market conditions.
Sub-index readings also fell considerably in April; builder confidence in current market conditions dropped from 79 to 36. Builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months dipped to an index reading of 36 in April as compared to the March reading of 75.
Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new single-family housing developments dropped from an index reading of 56 in March to a reading of 13 in April; builder sentiment readings about buyer traffic don’t usually exceed an index reading of 50 but had done so in recent months. Homebuilders also said that federal assistance for builders wasn’t distributed consistently; Builders need federal financial help to maintain payrolls and other expenses.
Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued dropped in March. Housing starts progressed at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.216 million starts as compared to February’s pace of 1.564 million housing starts.
Analysts expected a March reading of 1.290 million housing starts. Building permits issued were lower at 1.353 million permits issued as compared to 1.452 million permits issued on an annual basis in February. Analysts expected a March reading of 1.250 million building permits issued.
Mortgage Rates Near All-Time Lows as Initial Jobless Claims Slow
Freddie Mac reported mixed results for mortgage rates last week; rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.31 percent and were two basis points lower. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.80 percent and were three basis points higher. Rates for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages fell by six basis points and averaged 3.34 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages.
First-time jobless claims were lower last week but remained much higher than readings reported before the COVID-19 outbreak. 5.25 million initial claims were filed, which surpassed expectations of 5 million new claims filed. 6.60 million claims were filed the prior week.
This week’s scheduled economic releases include readings on new and existing home sales, consumer sentiment and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.