Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits continued to run stubbornly high in the latest week. Weekly Initial Jobless Claims came in at 870,000 for the week ended September 19, above the 825,000 expected and above the 866,000 in the previous week. Continuing claims, which measures those receiving benefits for at least two weeks straight, fell by 167,000 to 12,580,000.
Sales of new single-family homes rose in August as the sector continues to be a beacon of light in the U.S. economy. The Census Bureau reports that New Home Sales rose 5% in August from July to an annual rate of 1,011,000 units versus the 875,000 expected. It was the highest sales pace since September 2006. Sales were up an astonishing 43% from August 2019. However, supply remains a concern with just 3.3 months of inventory where 6 months is seen as normal.
Home borrowing costs remained at low levels in the latest survey and continue to buoy the housing market. Freddie Mac reports that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage inched higher this week to 2.90% with 0.8 in points and fees. A year ago at this time, the rate averaged 3.64 percent. “Mortgage rates set several record lows over the last few months and have remained low into September,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “While there is room for rates to decrease even more, higher home prices and low inventory could potentially stifle the high demand that we’ve been seeing.”