In the News
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo monthly housing market index rose two points in December to 47, the highest level since April 2006. This marks the eighth consecutive monthly gain. An index reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending December 14 fell 12.3%. Purchase volume fell 5%. Refinancing applications decreased 14%.
The combined construction of new single-family homes and apartments in November fell 3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 861,000 units. Single-family starts decreased 4.1%. Volatile multifamily starts fell 1%. Compared to a year ago, housing starts were up 21.6% in November. Applications for new building permits, seen as an indicator of future activity, rose 3.6% to an annual rate of 899,000 units.
The Commerce Department announced that gross domestic product — the total output of goods and services produced in the U.S. — increased at an annual rate of 3.1% in the third quarter of 2012, compared to the initial estimate of 2%.
Existing home sales rose 5.9% in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million units from 4.76 million units in October. Compared to a year ago, existing home sales were up 14.5% in November. The inventory of unsold homes on the market fell 3.8% to 2.03 million in November, a 4.8-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 5.3-month supply in October.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending December 15 rose by 17,000 to 361,000. Continuing claims for the week ending December 8 rose by 12,000 to 3.22 million.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on the housing price index on December 26 and new home sales on December 27.