- Housing Starts –The extreme cold of January took a heavy toll on the housing sector, including housing starts, which plunged 16%. Starts of single-family homes fell 15.9%.
- FOMC Minutes – Tapering continues to be hotly debated. Several members favored continuing a scheduled tapering of $10 billion per the FOMC meeting. Other participants favored a pause in tapering due to slack in the economy and low inflation.
- Consumer Price Index – Consumer price inflation slowed in January at the headline level, while core inflation remained soft.
- Jobless Claims – Initial claims for the week of February 15 dropped 3,000 to 336,000. The Econoday consensus was calling for 335,000. The four-week average rose slightly to 338,500.
- Existing Home Sales – High prices and tight inventory didn’t help the housing market. Existing home sales fell 5.1% in January.
According to the Primary Mortgage Market Survey released by Freddie Mac, average mortgage rates rose slightly.
30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) averaged 4.33% with an average 0.7 point for the week ending February 20, 2014, up from last week when they averaged 4.28%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.56%.
15-year FRMs this week averaged 3.35% with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when they averaged 3.33%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.77%.
5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) averaged 3.08% this week with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when they averaged 3.05%. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.64%.
1-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 2.57% this week with an average 0.3 point, up from last week when they averaged 2.55%. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.65%.
Stocks fell Friday as investors analyzed mixed signals about the health of the economy and corporate earnings. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and NASDAQ all finished the week slightly lower. Despite its drop, the NASDAQ remains the best-performing major index in 2014, up more than 2%.
The Week Ahead
Tuesday, February 25
FHFA House Price Index (9 a.m. ET) – The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index (HPI) covers single-family housing, using data provided by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The House Price Index is derived from transactions involving conforming conventional mortgages purchased or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
S&P Case-Shiller HPI (9 a.m. ET) – The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index tracks monthly changes in the value of residential real estate in 20 metropolitan regions across the U.S. The composite indexes and the regional indexes are seen by the markets as measuring changes in existing home prices and are based on single-family home re-sales.
Consumer Confidence (10 a.m. ET) – The Consumer Confidence Index is based on consumers’ perceptions of current business and employment conditions, as well as their expectations for six months regarding business conditions, employment and income.
Wednesday, February 26
New Home Sales (10 a.m. ET) – New home sales measure the number of newly-constructed homes with a committed sale during the month.
Thursday, February 27
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.
Friday, February 28
GDP (8:30 a.m. ET) – GDP is the broadest measure of aggregate economic activity and encompasses every sector of the economy.
Consumer Sentiment (9:55 a.m. ET) – The University of Michigan’s Consumer Survey Center questions 500 households each month on their financial conditions and attitudes about the economy. Consumer sentiment is directly related to the strength of consumer spending.
Pending Home Sales (10 a.m. ET) – The National Association of REALTORS developed the pending home sales index as a leading indicator of housing activity. Specifically, it is a leading indicator of existing home sales, not new home sales.
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