Housing Starts Surge

Raleigh Mortgage Group Uncategorized

It was a quiet week for mortgage rates. There were no significant new developments with China or Iran, and the reaction to the economic data was small. As a result, rates ended the week nearly unchanged.

A lack of inventory has been holding back home sales in many regions, so Friday’s report on home construction was very encouraging. In December, housing starts rocketed 17% from November, which completely blew away the consensus forecast, and were at the best level since 2006. They were a massive 41% higher than a year ago. The strength was seen across the board in both single-family and multi-family units. 

Since consumer spending accounts for about 70% of all economic activity in the US, the monthly retail sales data is a key indicator of growth. The latest report revealed that consumer spending remained solid during the important holiday shopping season. In December, retail sales rose 0.3% from November and were up an impressive 5.8% from one year ago. Once again, the greatest improvement was seen in online sales. 

As expected, inflation held steady in December. According to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a widely followed monthly inflation report that looks at the price change for goods and services, core inflation was 2.3% higher than a year ago. This was the same annual rate of increase as last month.  

Looking ahead, it will be a very light week for economic data. Of note, Existing Home Sales will be released on Wednesday. Beyond that, the next European Central Bank meeting will take place on Thursday. In addition, news about Iran or the trade negotiations with China could have an influence. 

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