I’m a little underwhelmed with a couple of my favorite football teams right now. It’s one of those things where they don’t quite manage to lose, but all the warning signs are there indicating that it could be a crazy year.
A few warning indicators might be going off in the minds of economic analysts right now, but the momentum hasn’t quite stopped yet. Let’s get into the data.
ISM Manufacturing Index
Confidence in the manufacturing sector fell in August. The headline number for the index fell 2.1 points to come in at 49.1.
New orders have stopped growing and were now pointed downward at 47.2, falling 3.6 points on the month. Meanwhile, new export orders fell almost five points and are really shrinking at 43.3. It’s likely that tariffs are having an effect. For context, a number under 50 points to a downturn, while a number above that means growth.
Backlog orders are still down, although less so than July. Although it sounds good for the consumer that there’s less of a backlog, it also doesn’t bode well for future employment. It means that companies won’t be hiring to cut into a trove of backorders. Speaking of employment, the manufacturing workforce may be shrinking as this was down 4.3 points to 47.4. Things are getting delivered faster, but that’s more a reflection of weaker demand.
Finally, prices paid were also down, coming in at 46, which may be a sign for the Federal Reserve that there’s no price pressure in the manufacturing market.
MBA Mortgage Applications
A seven-basis point decrease in the average rate of a conventional 30-year fixed to 3.87% wasn’t enough to keep overall mortgage applications from falling 3.1% last week.
Purchase applications were up 4%, but applications to refinance were down 7%. The good news is that purchase applications are up 5% on the year which is a good sign for future home sales.
Trade numbers lag by a couple of months, so it’s important to note that these are the numbers for July, and they aren’t reflective of the current situation necessarily. However, the overall trade deficit in the U.S. fell by $1.5 billion to $54 billion. Still, this is higher than the $53.9 billion average for the second quarter and shows that net exports may be a weakness in upcoming third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) readings.
In the closely watched goods deficit with China, this has risen by $2.8 billion to $32.8 billion as of July. Exports to the country dropped while imports rose. Exports within the context of the overall deficit are down 0.6% and have fallen 2.2% on the year. Meanwhile, imports were up 0.1% on the month and near flat on the year.
Analysts do point out that there were some export gains in goods, including both consumer and capital goods as well as car and truck exports. Exports of foods, feeds and beverages were down and have fallen 2.2% on the year. A lack of capital goods imports may point to decreased business investment. Imports of automobiles and consumer goods were also down.
Initial jobless claims were up 1,000 to come in at 217,000. Meanwhile, the 4-week average was up 1,500 to 216,250.
On the continuing claims side, these were down 39,000 to come in at 1.662 million. Meanwhile, the 4-week average was down 6,250, settling at about 1.692 million.
Only 130,000 jobs were added to nonfarm payrolls in August, well below expectations for a 163,000-job increase. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.7%, while participation in the labor market was up 0.2% to 63.2% overall.
Breaking down the numbers further, there were 96,000 jobs added to private payrolls with an additional 34,000 coming from the government sector as the U.S. gears up for the next census. Manufacturing jobs are very closely watched. This business area only added 3,000 jobs as compared to expectations for an increase of 8,000 openings. Additionally, there were only 4,000 jobs added to manufacturing in July, a sharp decrease from prior estimates, which placed the number at 12,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, average hourly earnings were up 0.4% on the month and have gone up 3.2% on the year, which is a slight decrease from the 3.3% rate in July. The average American did have a work week that was 6 minutes longer, coming in at 34 hours, 24 minutes.
With a fair level of economic uncertainty around growth rates happening both in the U.S. and around the world, the bond market has been the beneficiary. By extension, because the securities that underlie most mortgages are traded on the bond market, mortgage rates have fallen along with the corresponding bond yields as demand for safer assets has risen.
What’s the bottom line? If you’re a home buyer, it’s a great time to purchase and if you’re looking to refinance, rates remain very favorable. If you’re ready, it’s not a bad time to lock your rate.
The average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage with 0.5 points in fees fell nine basis points to 3.49% last week. This is down from 4.54% at the same time a year ago.
Meanwhile, the average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage with 0.6 points paid was down six basis points to exactly 3%. This has fallen from 3.99% last year.
Finally, the average rate on a 5-year treasury-indexed, hybrid adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) with 0.4 points paid was down a single basis point to 3.3%. This is down from 3.93% at the beginning of September 2018.
Some of President Trump’s proposed tariffs went into effect at the beginning of September, but there’s been optimism in the trade situation between the U.S. and China. The two nations agreed to have their trade representatives meet in early October. On Friday, stocks didn’t move much despite a less than stellar employment report. It was enough to secure back-to-back weekly gains.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.49% on the week after rising 69.31 points Friday to close at 26,797.46. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 finished at 2,978.71, up 2.71 point on the day and increasing 1.79% on the week. Finally, the Nasdaq was down 13.75 points on the day, closing at 8,103.07, still up 1.76% for the week.
The Week Ahead
Tuesday, September 10
Quicken Loans® Home Price Perception Index (HPPI) (10:00 a.m. ET) – Quicken Loans releases data every month comparing what people think their homes are worth compared to appraisals. Similar opinions of value often make for smoother purchase and refinance transactions.
Quicken Loans Home Value Index (HVI) (10:00 a.m. ET) – Quicken Loans also releases data on home values at both the national and regional levels. Homeowners can gain a perception of whether values are increasing or decreasing and get a better idea of where they stand in terms of equity.
Wednesday, September 11
MBA Mortgage Applications (7:00 a.m. ET) – The mortgage applications index measures applications to mortgage lenders. This is a leading indicator for single-family home sales and housing construction.
Producer Price Index (PPI) (8:30 a.m. ET) – The Producer Price Index measures the average change over time in prices received by domestic producers for the sale of goods and services.
Thursday, September 12
Consumer Price Index (CPI) (8:30 a.m. ET) – The consumer price index measures changes based on the price of a fixed basket of goods and services purchased by consumers.
Jobless Claims (8:30 a.m. ET) – New unemployment claims are compiled weekly to show the number of individuals filing for unemployment insurance for the first time. An increasing trend suggests a deteriorating labor market. The 4-week moving average of new claims smooths out weekly volatility.
Friday, September 13
Retail Sales (8:30 a.m. ET) – Retail sales measure total receipts from stores selling merchandise and related services to final consumers. Sales are measured by retail and food service stores. Data is collected from the Monthly Retail Trade Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Consumer Sentiment (10:00 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.
We get some important data on home prices as well as a look at the inflation from both a consumer and producer perspective before wrapping up the week with retail sales numbers. We’ll have it all in next week’s Market Update!
I do my best, but I understand if this isn’t the most engaging reading on a Monday afternoon. The good news is we’ve got plenty more home, money and lifestyle content to share with you if you subscribe to the Zing Blog below. Did you know that today is Teddy Bear Day? While teddy bears are a symbol of childhood innocence, the little ones grow up way too fast. Here’s an article on transitioning your child from a nursery to a big kid room. Have a great week!
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