The stock and bond markets were closed last Monday to observe the federal holiday. Then, after three weeks of losses, stocks rebounded over the next four days to deliver solid gains. The markets were focused on the Fed Chairperson’s two days of testimony before Congress, but ironically it was signs of economic weakness that seemed to spur buying. The tech-heavy Nasdaq surged 7.5% and the S&P 500, which increased 6.5%, had its second-best showing of the year. The Russell 2000 rose 6.0%, followed by the Dow (5.4%) and the Global Dow (2.5%). Crude oil prices dropped (5.4%) for the second week in a row.
Last Week’s Economic News
- After four straight months of declines, sales of new single-family homes jumped 10.7% in May above the prior month’s total, according to the Census Bureau. However, new home sales were 5.9% below the level in May 2021. The median sales price of new houses sold in May 2022 was $449,000. The average sales price was $511,400. Inventory of new homes for sale sat at a supply of 7.7 months in May at the current sales pace.
- Sales of existing homes fell for the fourth straight month in May after declining 3.4% from April and 8.6% year-over-year. According to the National Association of Realtors®, home sales have essentially returned to levels last seen in 2019, before the pandemic supercharged the market. Further sales declines are expected due to affordability challenges worsened by the sharp rise in mortgage rates. Total housing inventory at the end of May increased 12.6% from April but fell 4.1% from one year ago. Unsold inventory sits at a 2.6-month supply at the present sales pace, up from 2.2 months in April and 2.5 months in May 2021. The median existing-home price for all housing types in May was $407,600, a rise of 14.8% from May 2021 ($355,000). Sales of existing single-family homes were also down in May after falling 3.6% from April and 7.7% year-over-year. The median existing single-family home price was $414,200 in May, up 14.6% from a year ago.
- For the week ended June 18, there were 229,000 new claims for unemployment insurance, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week’s level. According to the Department of Labor, the advance rate for insured unemployment claims for the week ended June 11 was 0.9%, unchanged from the previous week’s rate. The advance number of those receiving unemployment insurance benefits during the week ended June 11 was 1,315,000, an increase of 5,000 from the previous week’s level, which was revised down by 2,000.
Eye on the Week Ahead
The final estimate for first-quarter gross domestic product is available this week. So far, available data has shown that the economy retracted at an annual rate of -1.5%, compared to an increase of 6.9% in the fourth quarter of 2021. The latest report on personal income and spending is also out this week. Included in this report is the personal consumption expenditures price index, a measure of inflation favored by the Federal Reserve. The PCE price index was up 6.3% in April from 12 months earlier.
Have a nice week!