In December, the unemployment rate decreased in 42 U.S. states, increased in 4 states, and was unchanged in 4 states.
The unemployment rate is higher than a year ago in 2 states: Louisiana (6.7% vs 5.4%) and North Dakota (2.8% vs 2.7%).
Recall that the national jobless rate in December was 5.6%.
S&P Case-Shiller Home Prices declined in November, with the 20-city composite index decreasing by 0.2% (not seasonally adjusted). Year over year, the 20-City Composite is up 4.3%. This is a slower annual rate of growth than the 4.5% in October and the 13.7% rate in November 2013.
The national house price level is now roughly equal to where it stood in November 2004.
Of the 20 cities tracked in the index, Los Angeles has had the greatest increase in home prices since 2000, while Detroit has been the only city where prices have declined over the past 15 years.
From a year ago, house prices have increased the most in Las Vegas, where they rose 7.7%. Cleveland has had the slowest rate of annual increase, rising only 0.6%.
Dallas and Denver are the only cities whose prices have increased beyond their pre-recession peak. Las Vegas remains the furthest below its peak.
The U.S.Federal Housing Finance Agency saw its national house prices increase 0.8% in November (not seasonally adjusted), and increasing 5.3% from a year ago.
The FHFA HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages either sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The U.S. index is 4.5% below its March 2007 peak and is roughly the same as its Octoberr 2005 index level.
Of the 9 different geographic census divisions that FHFA tracks, house prices have increased the most year over year in the Pacific and increased the least in the New England region.
U.S. new home sales in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 481k. That is up 11.6% from December’s revised rate of 431k. The national rate of new home sales in December is up 8.8% from a year ago.
New home sales by region, seasonally adjusted annual rate, in December:
- Northeast: 43k from 28k last month.
- Midwest: 54k from 61k last month.
- South: 253k from 215k last month.
- West: 131k from 127k last month.
The median sales price of new houses sold in December was $298.1k, down from $291.6k in November.
The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of December was 219k. This represents a supply of 5.5 months at the current sales rate.
New and existing home sales:
U.S. consumer confidence decreased to a reading of 102.9 (1985=100) in January, as published this morning by The Conference Board. This compares to a revised reading of 93.1 in December.
The Present Situation Index component increased to 112.6 from 99.9, while the Expectations Index component increased to 96.4 from 88.5.
Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, said: “Consumer confidence rose sharply in January, and is now at its highest level since August 2007 (Index, 105.6). A more positive assessment of current business and labor market conditions contributed to the improvement in consumers’ view of the present situation. Consumers also expressed a considerably higher degree of optimism regarding the short-term outlook for the economy and labor market, as well as their earnings.”
The U.S. consumer sentiment index, reported by the University of Michigan, increased to 98.2 in January from 93.6 in December.
The recent trend:
Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 2.4% in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million. This annual rate is 3.5% higher than the 4.87 million-unit level in December 2013.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says sales picked up in December to close a 2014 that got off to a sluggish start but showed encouraging signs of activity the second half of the year. “Home sales improved over the summer once inventory increased, prices moderated and economic growth accelerated,” he said. “Sales were measurably better in the second half – up 8 percent compared to the first six months of the year.”
“A drop in housing supply in December raises some affordability concerns in the months ahead as minimal selection and the potential for faster price appreciation could offset the demand from buyers encouraged by a stronger economy and sub-4 percent interest rates,” says Yun. “Housing costs – both rents and home prices – continue to outpace wages and are burdensome for potential buyers trying to save for a downpayment while looking for available homes in their price range.”
The existing home sales rate in 2 out of 4 U.S. regions in December:
- Northeast: 0.66 million from 0.68 million month prior.
- Midwest: 1.09 million from 1.13 million month prior.
- South: 2.17 million from 2.09 million month prior.
- West: 1.12 million from 1.02 million month prior.
Total housing inventory at the end of December decreased 11.1% to 1.85 million existing homes available for sale. That represents a 4.4 month supply at the current sales pace. Unsold inventory is 0.5% lower than a year ago, when there were 1.86 million existing homes available for sale.
The median time on market for all homes was 66 days in December. That is up from 65 days in November. Short sales were on the market for a median of 98 days, while foreclosures typically sold in 61 days, and non-distressed homes took 66 days. 31% of homes sold in December were on the market for less than a month.
The national median existing home price for all housing types was $209,500, up 6.0% from a year ago.
The Chicago Fed’s National Activity Index (CFNAI) was a reading of -0.05 in December, down from November’s revised reading of +0.92. The negative figure indicates that the index is below its historical trend. The index’s 3-month moving average is at +0.39.
40 of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the CFNAI in December, while 45 made negative contributions. 33 indicators improved from November to December, while 52 indicators deteriorated. Of the indicators that improved, 14 made negative contributions.
The Production and Income index component registered -0.12 from +0.71 last month. Employment and Hours was +0.16 from +0.21, Personal Consumption and Housing was -0.12 from -0.03, and Sales, Orders, and Inventories was +0.03 from +0.03.
The CFNAI is a weighted average of 85 indicators of national economic activity drawn from four broad categories of data: 1) production and income; 2) employment, unemployment, and hours; 3) personal consumption and housing; and 4) sales, orders, and inventories. Each of these data series measures some aspect of overall macroeconomic activity.
It is constructed to have an average value of zero and a standard deviation of one. Since economic activity tends toward trend growth rate over time, a positive index reading corresponds to growth above trend and a negative index reading corresponds to growth below trend.
Initial jobless claims for the week ending January 17 were a seasonally adjusted 307k, up from the prior week’s revised reading of 317k. Not seasonally adjusted, jobless claims for the week were 381k.
Individual states that had changes in claims of more than 1k (not seasonally adjusted):
The 4-week moving average of initial jobless claims was 305k.
The number of unemployment insurance recipients, or continuing claims, for regular state programs was 2.443 million, up from the previous week’s revised reading of 2.428 million.
The insured unemployment rate, which is the number of unemployment insurance recipients as a share of covered employment, was 1.83%, upn from 1.82% the week prior.
90.47% of all U.S. jobs are covered by state unemployment insurance programs.
Of the 8.687 million Americans currently unemployed, 28.12% receive unemployment insurance.
Jobless claims and the unemployment rate: