NATIONAL MARKET UPDATE
November Housing Starts rose 1.2%, to a 1.547 million annual rate, with single-family starts up 27.1% from a year ago. Building Permits did even better, up 6.2% to a 1.639 annual rate, with single-family permits up 22.2% from a year ago.
Up seven straight months, single-family construction hit its highest level since 2007, 14.7% over its pre-pandemic high, more than a full V-shaped recovery. December builder confidence came in just off its November record high.
Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist reports “...purchase demand shows no real signs of waning at all heading into next year.” Purchase mortgage applications in fact rose for the fourth time in the last five weeks.
REVIEW OF LAST WEEK
OPTIMISM WINS... Investors felt good about the rollout of the first coronavirus vaccine, not so good about signs of a slowing economy. But upbeat feelings won out and stocks forged ahead.
Retail Sales dipped in November (yet are still in a V-shaped recovery, up from their pre-pandemic peak). Weekly jobless claims also rose. Both negatives were put to the shutdowns in response to more coronavirus cases.
But Congress appears closer to passing a stimulus deal, the Fed met and said it would keep backing the recovery with low rates and heavy bond buying, and the Leading Economic Index (LEI) was up seven months in a row.
The week ended with the Dow UP 0.4%, to 30,179; the S&P 500 UP 1.3%, to 3,709; and the Nasdaq UP 3.1%, to 12,756.
The net positive feelings dipped bond prices overall, though the UMBS 3.0% went up .22, to $104.77. Freddie Mac's latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey saw the national average 30-year fixed mortgage rate fall to another record low. Remember, mortgage rates can be extremely volatile, so check with your mortgage professional for up-to-the-minute information.
DID YOU KNOW?... Poinsettias were introduced to America in 1828 by U.S. ambassador to Mexico Joel Poinsett. They’re now grown in all 50 states and represent more than 85% of potted plant sales during the holiday season.
THIS WEEK'S FORECAST
HOME SALES HOLD, ECONOMY TOO… Forecasts call for November Existing Home Sales to stay near October's strong 6.8-million-unit annual rate and for New Home Sales to remain just under a million units. Personal Income and Spendingare expected off a tick, PCE Prices up a tick, and Consumer Confidence high.
Thursday, Christmas Eve, stock markets will close at 1 p.m., bond markets at 2, and all financial markets will be closed Friday, Christmas Day. Happy Holidays to all!
NOTE: Weaker economic data tends to send bond prices up and interest rates down, while positive data points to lower bond prices and higher loan rates.