Market Update

My household was abuzz with activity this weekend. My sister came back from college just in time for her birthday, and my younger brother was in town. We kept pretty busy. I hope you all enjoyed the weekend!

Speaking of pretty busy, there was quite a bit going on last week from an economic data standpoint. We got some housing and inflation data along with retail sales and production numbers. Let’s dig into it.

Headline News

Quicken Loans Home Price Perception Index (HPPI)

Homeowner expectations came in 0.28% higher than actual appraised values in August, which is flat when compared with July. Appraisers and homeowners remained very close to agreement.

On a regional basis, homeowners in the West were closest to harmony with appraisers as they overestimated value by just 0.14%. In the South, homeowners overvalued homes by 0.27%, while the difference was 0.33% in the Midwest. Finally, the Northeast was the laggard, with homeowner’s having a 0.41% difference between their estimates and actual appraised value.

At the city level, Boston has the most undervalued market among homeowners. Estimates in this area were 2.88% under appraisal. Chicagoans overvalued their homes by 1.74% on the other side.

Quicken Loans Home Value Index (HVI)

Home values were up 1.08% in August and have gone up 5.79% on the year nationwide. The tail end of purchase season meant less inventory on the market for those who were still looking for homes, driving up prices.

On a regional basis, home values were up 2.61% in the West and have risen 8.01% since last year. The South saw a gain in August of 0.58% and prices have appreciated 5.61% annually. This was followed by the Northeast, up 0.4% for the month and 3.78% on the year. Bringing up the rear was the Midwest, up 0.09% and 3.97% annually.

MBA Mortgage Applications

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that the average rate on a 30 year-fixed conforming mortgage was up four basis points to 4.84% last week. This had the effect of pushing refinance applications down 6% and overall applications down 1.8% despite a 1% uptick in purchase applications.

Applications to refinance comprise a smaller percentage of the business than they have in recent years. Just 37.8% of the mortgage applications last week were refinance related, a drop of 1.8% from the week prior.

Producer Price Index (PPI)

Production prices fell last month, dropping 0.1%. They’ve still risen 2.8% on the year. The drop holds true even when food and energy are taken out although the yearly gains in this metric still sit at 2.3%. One big thing that appears to have weighed heavily on producer inflation is a 0.9% decline in the trade services category. When this was left out, prices were up 0.1% and 2.9% annually.

Food prices were down 0.6% which helped make up for a 0.4% uptick in energy costs. Meanwhile, construction costs were only up 0.1%. While the price of passenger cars was up 0.7%, light trucks fell 0.1%. Overall measures of personal consumption were flat.

Looking at industries most impacted by tariffs, steel mills saw costs rise 2.6% and they’ve risen 18.6% on the year. The cost of aluminum did decline 2.1% in August, although it’s still up 14%.

The pace of producer inflation appears to be slowing, as it’s noted that the annual inflation rate is down 0.5% from July.

Consumer Price Index (CPI)

Price increases came in just below expectations in August, rising only 0.2% compared to a 0.3% analyst estimate. Prices are still up 2.7% annually. Meanwhile, when food and energy were taken out, the increases were even softer, up 0.1% in 2.2% overall on the year.

In explaining the soft data, medical care is a good place to start, prices are down in consecutive months and have gone up 1.5% on the year. Meanwhile, the price of apparel was also down 1.6% and has dropped 1.4% annually. Recreation was also down a monthly 0.1%. Food prices are on the uptick, but slowly, rising only 0.1% on the month and 1.4% on the year.

Housing prices were up 0.3% and have risen 2.9% overall in the year. Energy prices were also up 1.9% on the month and have gone up 10.2% yearly.

Jobless Claims

Initial jobless claims were 1,000 lower last week to come in at 204,000. The four-week average was down 2,000 to 208,000. This is a 50-year low.

On the continuing claims side, these were down 15,000, coming in at 1.696 million. Meanwhile, the four-week average was at 1.711 million, down 8,250.

Retail Sales

Retail sales were up just 0.1% in the month of August. A big reason for this was a 0.8% downturn in car sales. When cars were taken out, retail sales were up 0.3%. When cars and gas were both taken out, sales were up 0.2%. Meanwhile, the control group matched the overall 0.1% gain.

Apparel sales were down 1.7% as were department stores, which fell 1%. Furniture sales were also down 0.3% and building material sales were down. These last two aren’t a good sign for residential investment.

On the positive side of the ledger, non-store retailers were up 0.7%, bolstered by e-commerce. Gas station sales were up 1.7%. Meanwhile, restaurant sales were up 0.2% in August. Retail sales are up 6.6% overall on the year.

Industrial Production

Industrial production was up 0.4% in August, in line with analyst expectations. Mining was up 0.7% to match a 0.7% gain in July. Utility companies also had a 1.2% uptick in production. Manufacturing was only up 0.2% on the month, moderating optimism a little.

Production in the auto industry was up 4% in August on the manufacturing side. Non-industrial supplies including those for construction were flat. There were solid gains in high-tech goods and business equipment.

Capacity utilization in factories were also up a bit, rising 0.2% to 78.1% overall.

Consumer Sentiment

in the preliminary reading for September, consumer sentiment was up 4.6 points to 100.8. It represents the strongest reading since March.

Current conditions saw an almost six-point rise to 116.1. Meanwhile, expectations were up four points to 100.8. That number is a new 15-year high. Consumers are particularly sweet on the stock market and the jobs outlook at this point.

Inflation expectations did decline 0.2% since August for both the one-year and five-year forecasts, coming in at 2.8% and 2.4%, respectively.

Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates pushed higher for the most part last week, according to Freddie Mac. This seems to be the trend right now.

The way things are going, if you’re in the market to purchase or refinance and see a rate you like, don’t hesitate to get a rate lock.

The average rate on a 30-year-fixed conforming mortgage with 0.5 points in fees was up six basis points to 4.60%. At this time last year, the average rate was 3.78%.

Looking at shorter terms, the average interest rate for a 15-year fixed mortgage increased seven basis points to 4.06% with 0.5 points paid. This is up from 3.08% a year ago.

Finally, the 5-year treasury-indexed, hybrid adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) was flat at 3.93% with 0.3 points. The rate was 3.13% last year.

Stock Market

The threat of tariffs held down gains in what otherwise would be a solid week. In the latest salvo in the economic battle with China, President Trump wants $200 billion worth of Chinese goods added to the tariff plans.

Makers of computer chips had a good week, as both Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices had strong gains. Did you have any big gainers in our Fantasy Stock League this week? It’s not too late to get in on the action for prizes.

In the last five days, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.92% after finishing at 26,154.67 points Friday, up 8.68 points on the day. Its counterpart, the S&P 500 was up 0.8 points on the day to close at 2,904.98, rising 1.16% on the week. Finally, the Nasdaq was down 3.67 points Friday to close at 8,010.04, still achieving a weekly gain of 1.36%.

The Week Ahead

Tuesday, September 18

Housing Market Index (10:00 a.m. ET) – The National Association of Home Builders produces a housing market index based on a survey where respondents from the organization are asked to rate the general economy and housing market conditions. The index is a weighted average of separate diffusion indexes, including present sales of new homes, sales of new homes expected in the next six months and traffic of prospective buyers in new homes.

Wednesday, September 19

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.

Housing Starts (8:30 a.m. ET) – A housing start is registered when the construction of a new residential building begins. The start of construction is defined as the beginning of excavation of the foundation for the building.

Thursday, September 20

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 four-week moving average of new claims smooths out weekly volatility.

Existing Home Sales (10:00 a.m. ET) – Existing Home Sales tallies the number of previously constructed homes, condominiums and co-ops that were sold during the month. Existing homes (also known as home resales) account for a larger share of the market than new homes and indicate housing market trends.

While this week was a bit action-packed, next week is a bit lighter from a hard data standpoint. We’ll see what the markets do. Whatever happens, we’ll have it all covered next Monday.

While important, we understand that this sometimes isn’t the most interesting Monday afternoon content. The good news is if you subscribe to the Zing Blog below, we’ve got plenty of home, money and lifestyle content we can’t wait to share. Saturday is the first day of fall. As the weather changes, odds are you’re going to be moving indoors with your activity. If you plan on taking the time to get some work done around the house, here are some can’t miss renovation trends for the season.

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