· December existing home sales decreased 4.6% to an annualized rate of 4.99 million units, according to the National Association of Realtors. The December figure was 10.3 % below the December 2017 figure. The median sales price of existing houses sold was $253.6 thousand, 2.9% above December 2017. This marks the 82nd straight month of year-over-year gains in prices. The housing inventory at the end of December dropped to 1.55 million from 1.74 million existing homes for sale in November. Unsold inventory is at a 3.7-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 3.9 last month and up from 3.2 months a year ago.
· U.S. House prices rose 0.4% on a seasonally adjusted basis from October to November, the same increase as in the previous period, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) monthly House Price Index. For the 12 months ending in November, U.S. prices rose 5.8%. The annual increases ranged from 4.5% in the West South Central division to 7.4% in the Mountain division.
· The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed 30-year fixed mortgage rates remained unchanged for the third consecutive week. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 4.45% for the week ending January 24, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 4.15%. The 15-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.88%, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 3.62%.
· Mortgage applications decreased 2.7% from a week earlier week, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending January 18, 2019.
· The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased by 13 thousand to 199 thousand in the week ending January 19. This is the lowest level for initial claims since November 15, 1969 when it was 197 thousand. The 4-week moving average was 215 thousand, a decrease of 5.5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending January 12 was 1,713 thousand, a decrease of 24 thousand from the previous week’s unrevised level of 1,737 thousand. The 4-week moving average was 1,729.750 thousand, an increase of 1.25 thousand from the previous week’s unrevised average of 1,728.5 thousand.
· The Conference Board index of leading economic indicators decreased 0.1% in December, following a 0.2% increase in the previous month. Over the last six months of 2018, the index grew 1.5% (about 3.1% annual rate), slower than the growth of 2.7% (about 5.5% annual rate) over the first half of the year.The Conference Board coincident economic index increased 0.2% in December, the same increase as in November. The coincident index rose 1.2% (about 2.3% annual rate) during the last six months of 2018, slower than the growth of 1.0% (about 2.0% annual rate) over the first half of the year.