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Market UpdateHeadline News

Existing Home Sales – Existing home sales fell 4.9% in January to an annualized rate of 4.82 million. This is the lowest rate since last April. Single-family home sales were down 5.1% while condos were down 3.5%. Average sale price was also down 4.1% to $199,600. Supply in the market is up to 4.7 months.

S&P Case-Shiller HPI – Home prices were up 0.9% on a seasonally adjusted basis in December. They’re up 4.5% since December of 2013. This month’s gain is the largest since last March.

Consumer Confidence – Consumer confidence fell 7.4 points this month to 96.4. This is down from 103.8 in January, which was the highest level in over seven years. One of the main culprits for the drop is the expectations portion, which fell 9.8 points to 87.2. The present situation component dropped 2.7 points to 110.2. There was a 1.6% increase in the reading that measures the expectations of job attainability. This came in at 26.2%.

MBA Purchase Applications – While the index as a whole was down 3.5%, purchases were up 5.0% for the week as the average rate increased to 3.99% for a 30-year fixed mortgage. Refinances were down 8%.

New Home Sales – Sales of new homes were stronger than expected in January. They managed to keep up with December’s 8.1% jump and stay on track for an annual sales number of 481,000. Much of this strength came from a 2.2% sales increase in the South. This may have been helped by a median price dip of 2.6% to $294,000. The supply of new homes in the market is at 5.4 months. An interesting report on Commerce Department data by the Wall Street Journal shows that the average size of a completed, single-family home is now 2,415 square feet.

Durable Goods Orders – Durable goods orders were up 2.8% in January, following a December drop. Taking out transportation, the core was up 0.3%. New orders are up 5.4% year over year. Transportation was up 9.1%. While motor vehicle sales were down 2.9%, nondefense aircraft were up 128.5% for the month. There were gains in machinery as well as computers and electronics. Primary metals and electrical equipment declined.

Consumer Price Index (CPI) – The CPI for the month of January was down 0.7% and down 0.2% on the year. Excluding food and energy, prices are up 0.2% on the month. Gasoline was a major contributing factor to the price drops, falling 18.7% from December. The price of shelter increased, as did prices for personal care products, apparel and recreational activities. The price of medical care was unchanged, as were food prices. Meanwhile, the prices of furniture, alcohol, new and used vehicles and airline fares all decreased.

Jobless Claims – Initial claims shot up 31,000 this week to 313,000. The four-week average is also up 11,500 to 294,500. Continuing claims for the week of February 14 fell 21,000 to 2.401 million. However, the four-week average was up 2,000 to 2.399 million.

FHFA House Price Index: In a similar finding to the S&P report, the FHFA findings for December showed that home prices were up 0.8%. They’re up 5.4% on the year.

GDP: GDP growth was 2.2% for Q4, which was a downward revision. The good news is that the decrease was mainly blamed on lower estimates for inventory investment. Final sales and domestic product were revised up to 2.1% from 1.8%.

Consumer Sentiment: Consumer sentiment was up 1.8 points to permits mid-month, rising to a score of 95.4. The current conditions component went from 103.1 to 106.9 at month’s end, and the expectations component went up 1.5 points to 89.5. Inflation expectations are unchanged at 2.8% for one year.

Pending Home Sales Index: Pending home sales were up 1.7% to 104.2 for the month, indicating moderate strength for sales of existing homes currently on the market. There were gains in the south of 3.2% and the west of 2.2%.

Mortgage News

All the major mortgage indicators were up this week except a one-year adjustable rate.

30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) averaged 3.80% with an average 0.6 point for the week ending February 26, 2015, up from last week when they averaged 3.76%. A year ago at this time, 30-year FRMs averaged 4.37%.

15-year FRMs this week averaged 3.07% with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when they averaged 3.05%. A year ago at this time, 15-year FRMs averaged 3.39%.

5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) averaged 2.99% this week with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when they averaged 2.97%. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.05%.

1-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 2.44% this week with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.45%. At this time last year, 1-year ARMs averaged 2.52%.

Equity Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 81.72 points to 18,132.70, down 0.04% on the week. The S&P 500 fell 6.24 points on Friday to close at 2,104.50, losing about 0.3% on the week. The NASDAQ fell 24.36 points to close at 4,963.53, still exhibiting an increase of over 0.1% for the week.

The Week Ahead

Monday, March 2

Personal Income and Outlays (8:30 a.m.) – This measures all possible income sources as well as expenditures of the public.

ISM Manufacturing Index (10:00 a.m.) – This index measures the general direction of manufacturing within the U.S. The qualitative survey of purchasing managers looks at production, new orders, order backlogs, inventories and supplier deliveries, among other factors.

Wednesday, March 4

MBA Purchase Applications (7:00 a.m. ET) – The purchase applications index measures applications at mortgage lenders. This is a leading indicator for single-family home sales and housing construction.

Thursday, March 5

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 trend suggests a deteriorating labor market. The four-week moving average of new claims smooths out weekly volatility.

Friday, March 6

International Trade (8:30 a.m. ET) – International trade is composed of merchandise (tangible goods) and services. It’s available by export, import and trade balance for six principal end-use commodity categories and for more than 100 principal Standard International Trade Classification system commodity groupings.

Employment Situation (8:30 a.m. ET) – The employment situation report measures unemployment in the labor force as well as the sentiments of workers about the job market.

Visit the Quicken Loans Zing Blog for updated information on important economic releases that affect your wallet.

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