- S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index – Home price momentum was solid and steady going into year’s end based on Case-Shiller data where the adjusted October gain of 1.0 % for the 20-city index matches September’s gain and compares with gains of 0.9 and 0.6 % in the two prior months. The year-on-year gain of 13.6 % is up 3 tenths for the best rate of the recovery.
- Jobless Claims – Clouded by holiday volatility, initial claims were little changed in the December 28 report, down 2,000 to 339,000. In an offset, the prior week was revised 3,000 higher to 341,000. The 4-week average is not favorable, up a steep 8,500 to a 357,250 level that is more than 30,000 above the level in late November.
According to the Primary Mortgage Market Survey released by Freddie Mac, average mortgage rates continued to trend upward as we entered 2014:
30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.53% with an average 0.8 point for the week ending January 2, 2014, up from last week when it averaged 4.48%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.34%.
15-year FRM this week averaged 3.55% with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.52%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.64%.
5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.05% this week with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.00%. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.71%.
1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.56% this week with an average 0.5 point, unchanged from last week. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.57%.
Stocks started off 2014 with mixed results at best. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose slightly Friday, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq both added to Thursday’s 1% declines. Some of the decline can be attributed to a major snowstorm in the Northeast that kept traders away and the end of the holiday-shortened week.
The Week Ahead
Wednesday, January 8
FOMC Minutes (2 p.m. ET) – The Federal Open Market Committee issues minutes of its meetings with a lag. The minutes of the previous meeting are reported three weeks after the meeting.
Consumer Credit (3 p.m. ET) – Changes in consumer credit indicate the state of consumer finances and portend future spending patterns.
Thursday, January 9
Jobless Claims (8:30 a.m. ET) – New unemployment claims are compiled weekly to show the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time. An increasing (decreasing) trend suggests a deteriorating (improving) labor market. The four-week moving average of new claims smooths out weekly volatility.
Friday, January 10
Employment Situation (8:30 a.m. ET) – The employment situation is a set of labor market indicators based on two separate surveys in this one report. The unemployment rate equals the number of unemployed persons divided by the total number of persons in the labor force, which comes from a survey of 60,000 households (This is called the household survey).
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