Economic News in Review Greenville SC
Here is last week’s Economic News in Review Greenville SC.
Last week saw encouraging housing news with sales of existing homes reaching their best rate in 12 months, and new home sales hitting their fastest pace in seven years. Also, layoffs enjoyed a better-than-expected drop.
Existing Home Sales
Sales of existing homes hit their fastest pace in a year, rising 1.2 percent to an annual rate of 4.88 million in February, according to last week’s report from the National Association of Realtors. All told, sales of existing single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops were 4.7 percent higher than the same period a year ago.
That said, prices climbed as well. The median price for existing homes of all types hit $202,600 in February, which was 7.5 percent higher than February 2014’s price. This marked the 36th straight month of year-over-year price gains. It appeared that higher prices caused by winnowing supply were holding the market back, according to NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.
“Insufficient supply appears to be hampering prospective buyers in several areas of the country and is hiking prices to near unsuitable levels,” Yun said in a public statement. “Stronger price growth is a boon for homeowners looking to build additional equity, but it continues to be an obstacle for current buyers looking to close before rates rise.”
Looking at inventory, the total pool of existing homes for sale at the end of February grew 1.6 percent to 1.89 million units, representing a 4.6-month supply of available homes at February’s sales pace.
New Home Sales
New home sales hit a seven-year high in February, with sales of new single-family homes hitting an annual rate of 539,000, the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported last week. February’s pace was 7.8 percent higher than January’s revised rate of 500,000 and was 24.8 percent higher than February 2014’s pace of 432,000.
John Johnson, chief executive of homebuilder David Weekley Homes attributed February’s gains to improved consumer confidence and low interest rates.
“There’s evidence that buyers who had been forestalling or delaying their decision are now comfortable enough to buy,” Johnson told the Wall Street Journal. “And there’s some awareness that interest rates aren’t going to stay down forever.”
Looking at price, the median sales price of new homes sold in February was $275,500, and the average sales price was $341,000. The estimated inventory of new homes for sale at the end of February was 210,000, representing a 4.7-month supply at February’s sales pace.
Initial Jobless Claims
First-time claims for unemployment benefits filed by the newly unemployed beat analysts’ expectations, and fell to their lowest level in five weeks. Initial jobless claims filed during the week ending March 21 dropped to 282,000, a decline of 9,000 claims from the preceding week's unrevised level of 291,000, the Employment and Training Administration reported last week. This beat job market watchers’ expectations that claims would come in at 290.000 for the week.
The four-week moving average — considered a more stable measure of lay-offs — fell to 297,000, a drop of 7,750 claims from the prior week’s unrevised average of 304,750.
All in all, a sustained low level in layoffs spells good things for the job market, because it typically corresponds with increased hiring.
“If we continue to see claims down here, you can expect to see more payroll gains,” said Raymond Stone, managing director at Stone & McCarthy Research Associates, told Bloomberg. “The good, strong gains we’ve seen in payrolls will continue.”
Economic News in Review Greenville SC
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