Stock markets end September at record highs – Stock market indexes closed the week at record levels. Stocks have soared as investors were encouraged by the prospects of lower corporate tax rates. The White House released its proposed tax plan, which would cut the corporate tax rates from 35% to 20%. Oil also rose to just over $51 per barrel, which bolstered energy stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the month at 22,405.09, up from its August 31 close of 21,948.10. The Dow is up over 13.4% year-to-date. The S&P 500 closed the month at 2,519.36, up from its August close of 2,471.65. The S&P is up 12.5% year-to-date. The NASDAQ closed the month at 6,495.26, up from last month’s close of 6,428.66. It’s up 20.5% year-to-date.
Treasury Bond yields higher in September – The 10-year Treasury bond closed on September 29, 2017 at 2.33%, up from 2.17% at the end of August. The 30-year treasury yield ended the month at 2.86%, up from 2.73% last month.
Mortgage Rates remain near historic lows – The 30-year fixed mortgage rate remained under 4% in September. The September 28, 2017 Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate average was 3.83%, almost unchanged from 3.82% on August 31, 2017. The 15-year fixed was 3.13%, unchanged from last month’s close of 3.12%. The 5-year ARM was 3.20%, up from 3.14% on August 31, 2017.
Employers add 157,000 new jobs in August – The Labor Department reported that The U.S. Economy added 157,000 non-farm jobs in August. Economists had expected a gain of 180,000 new jobs. The unemployment rate grew to 4.4% from 4.3% in July. Wage growth also stalled growing just .1% over July and up just 2.5% from last August. The September figures will be out next Friday. September figures will be included on the monthly economic post card and email.
Consumer Prices rise in August – The Labor Department reported that its Consumer Price Index rose 0.4 percent in August after edging up just 0.1 percent in July. August’s gain was the largest in seven months and lifted the year-on-year increase in the CPI to 1.9 percent from 1.7 percent in July. Economists had forecast the CPI rising 0.3 percent in August and climbing 1.8 percent year-on-year. Gasoline prices surged 6.8% for consumers as refineries shut down due to hurricanes. This should just be a temporary spike and added to the CPI increase. The Core CPI, which strips out volatile food and energy, increased 0.2% in August. Year-over-year Core CPI has increased 1.7%. Inflation, while a little higher in August, is still below the Fed’s target level. We watch inflation because higher inflation drives interest rates up. Low inflation keeps rates tame.
California home sales and prices continue to rise in August – The California Association of Realtors released its August Sales and Price Report. Despite tight inventory existing, single family home sales totaled 427,630 in August on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate. That represented a 1.5% increase month-over-month from July and a 1.3% increase from last August. The Los Angeles region registered a 4.4% gain in the number of sales year-over-year. The median price paid for a home in California was $565,330, up 2.9% from July and 7.2% from August 2016. C.A.R.’s Unsold Inventory Index fell to a 2.9-month supply of housing in August, down from 3.2 months in July, as there were too few new listings to keep up with strong sales growth.
U.S. Existing home sales slightly lower in August – Existing home sales data released by The National Association of Realtors showed that existing-home sales dropped 1.7% on a seasonally adjusted annual rate in August from July’s sales levels, as tight inventory has affected home sales. For the year, the number of existing homes sold on a seasonally adjusted annual rate in August was 0.2% above last August’s sales pace. Prices continue to rise nationally. The median price aid for a home in August was 5.6% higher than one year ago. Housing inventory continued to decline. The number of homes for sale declined 6.5% from August 2016. The 27th straight month of year-over-year declines in inventory levels. The unsold inventory index dropped to a 4.2 month supply, down from 4.5 months one year ago.
Economic update for the week ending September 30, 2017
Markets close the week again at record highs – Stock market indexes closed the week at record levels. Stocks have soared as investors were encouraged by the prospects of lower corporate tax rates. The White House released its proposed tax plan, which would cut the corporate tax rates from 35% to 20%. Oil also rose to just over $51 per barrel which bolstered energy stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the week at 22,405.09, up from 22,349.59 last week. It’s up 13.4% year-to-date. The S&P 500 closed the week at 2,519.36, up from its close last week of 2,502.22. The S&P is up 12.5% YTD. The NASDAQ closed the week at 6,495.96, a record high, up from its last week’s close of 6,426.22. It’s up 20.7% year-to-date.
Bond yields higher this week – The 10-year Treasury bond closed the week at 2.33, up from 2.26% last week. The 30-year treasury yield ended the week at 2.86%, up from 2.80% last week. Mortgage rates follow treasury bond yields so we watch bond yields carefully.
Mortgage Rates unchanged this week – The September 28, 2017 Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate average was 3.83%, unchanged from 3.83% last week. The 15-year fixed was 3.13%, unchanged from 3.13% last week. The 5-year ARM was 3.20%, up from 3.17% last week.