Economic News in Review Greenville SC
Here is last week’s Economic News in Review Greenville SC.
Sales of existing homes saw considerably healthy activity in December, and near-term employment saw some stability, while leading economic indicators gained slightly.
The big economic news last week was in real estate, with sales of existing-homes for all of 2013 hitting their highest point since 2006. Sales of existing single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops grew by 1 percent in December to an annual rate of 4.87 million, the National Association for Realtors reported.
Compared to a year ago, last month was down 0.6 percent from a 4.90 million-unit pace from December 2012, the association reported, but when 2013 was taken as a whole, its 5.09 million sales were 9.1 percent higher than 2012. Annual performance hasn’t been that good since 2006 when sales hit a high of 6.48 million during the housing bubble.
“Existing-home sales have risen nearly 20 percent since 2011, with job growth, record low mortgage interest rates and a large pent-up demand driving the market,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “We lost some momentum toward the end of 2013 from disappointing job growth and limited inventory, but we ended with a year that was close to normal given the size of our population.”
In terms of price, the median price for all existing homes of all types hit $198,000 in December, marking a 9.9 percent increase from December 2012. Looking at the full year, the national median existing-home price for the entirety of 2013 was $197,100, marking an 11.5 percent gain over 2012’s median of $176,800. This was the biggest yearly gain since 2005’s 12.4 percent increase.
Helping drive that price growth was a shrinking number of transactions of distressed homes, such as foreclosures and short sales, which comprised 14 percent of December’s sales. While this was unchanged from November it was down considerably from December 2012’s 24 percent.
And prices might continue to grow given the supply of homes for sale. Housing inventory for December fell 9.3 percent to 1.86 million existing homes available for sale, representing a 4.6 month supply at the December’s sales pace, which was down from 5.1 months in November.
Turn to employment, short-term employment scores appear to have left the tumult of the holiday season behind and are starting to smooth out. First-time claims filed by the newly unemployed for unemployment benefits hovered around a six-week low, only ticking up by 1,000 claims to 326,000 in the week ending Jan. 18, the Employment and Training Administration reported last week.
The four-week moving average, often considered a more reliable figure, dropped to 331,500 claims, a decline of 3,750 from the preceding week's revised average of 335,250. The total number of unemployed Americans during the week ending Jan. 11 grew to 3,056,000, a gain of 34,000 from the previous week's revised level of 3,022,000, the Administration also reported.
Meanwhile, The Conference Board reported last week that its Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) index, a compendium of various key economic metrics, such as employment, real estate, stock prices and manufacturing, grew 0.1 percent in December to hit 99.4 (a baseline of 100 was set in 2004).
“Despite month-to-month volatility in the final quarter of 2013, the U.S. LEI continues to point to gradually strengthening economic conditions through early 2014,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, economist for The Conference Board. “The LEI was lifted by its financial components in December, but consumer expectations for business conditions and residential construction continue to pose risks.”
This week we can expect:
- Monday — December new home sales from the Census Bureau.
- Tuesday — Durable goods orders for December from the Census Bureau; consumer confidence for January from The Conference Board.
- Thursday — Initial jobless claims for last week from the Employment and Training Administration; advance fourth quarter GDP from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
- Friday — December personal income and spending from the Bureau of Economic Analysis; January consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan and Thomson-Reuters news services.
Economic News in Review Greenville SC
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