New residential home building increased in April as the low mortgage rate environment is helping to fuel a rebound in the housing market. The Census Bureau reports that housing starts rose 5.7% in April from March to an annual rate of 1.235 million units, above the 1.2 million expected, while March was revised higher to 1.168 million from 1.1239 million. However, starts declined 2.5% from a year ago. Single-family starts jumped 6.2% monthly from March, though down 4.3% annually. Multi-dwellings, or five or more units, saw a 2.3% increase month-over-month, up 1.4% year-over-year.
Uncertainty surrounding the US/China trade issues along with low inflation have pushed mortgage rates to lows seen in January 2018 this week, reports Freddie Mac. The 30-yr fixed-rate mortgage declined to 4.07% this week from 4.10% last week with an average 0.5 in points and fees. Freddie Mac said, "While signals from the financial markets are flashing caution signs, the real economy remains on solid ground with steady job growth and five-decade low unemployment rates, which will drive up home sales this summer."
Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits continue to hover near 50-year lows in the latest week as the labor market runs on all cylinders. Weekly Initial Jobless Claims fell by 16,000 in the latest week to 212,000 and show no sign of increasing in the foreseeable future. The four-week moving average of claims, which strips out seasonal abnormalities, rose by 4,750 to 225,000. Those who are already collecting benefits fell by 28,000 to 1.66 million.