Last week’s economic reporting included readings on home builder confidence and weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims.
NAHB: Home builder confidence increases in April
The National Association of Home Builders reported that builder confidence in current housing market conditions rose by one point to an index reading of 45 in April. April’s reading was the fourth consecutive month showing increasing builder confidence. The March and April index readings of 44 and 45 were the strongest since September 2022. A year ago the homebuilder confidence reading was 77.
Component readings for homebuilder confidence in market conditions were mixed. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions rose two points; builder confidence in expected sales over the next six months rose three points and builder confidence in prospective buyer traffic in new housing developments was unchanged from March.
The outlook for previously-owned homes was less clear. Robert Dietz, the chief economist for the NAHB, said: “Homebuilders are confident about future sales as buyers compete for the low inventory of available pre-owned homes.” Mr. Dietz also said that the shortage of previously-owned homes for sale was caused in part by homeowners not wanting to give up their current low mortgage rates.
Homebuilders are offering buyer incentives; 30 percent of homebuilders lowered prices on new homes by an average discount of six percent. Mr. Dietz said, “ Currently one-third of the housing inventory is new construction as compared to the historical norm of a little more than ten percent.” Mr. Dietz said that there is no evidence that pressure on the regional bank system has made the lending environment worse for builders and land developers.
Mortgage rates and jobless claims rise
Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week. The average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by 12 basis points to 6.39 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by 22 basis points to 5.76 percent.
245,000 initial jobless claims were filed last week as compared to the expected reading of 244,000 first-time claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 240,000 first-time claims filed. 1.87 million continuing jobless claims were filed as compared to the previous week’s reading of 1.80 million ongoing claims filed.
This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on housing markets and home prices. Data on new home sales and pending home sales will be published along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims.