Stock markets higher this week – After a few weeks of declines, stocks made up some ground as the beginning of first quarter earnings were released, a 7% decline in oil prices, and political headlines lead to a volatile week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the week at 20,547.76, up from last week’s close of 20,453.25. The S&P 500 closed the week at 2,348.69, up from 2,328.95 last Friday. The NASDAQ closed the week just off Thursday’s all time high at 5,910.52, up from last week’s close of 5,805.15.
Treasury Bond yields unchanged this week – The 10-year Treasury bond ended the week at 2.24%, almost unchanged from 2.23% last week. The 30-year treasury yield ended the week at 2.89%, unchanged from 2.89% last Friday.
Mortgage Rates – 30-year drops below 4% for first time in 5 months – Mortgage rates dropped for the fourth straight week. The April 20, 2017 Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate average was 3.97%, down from4.08% last week. The 15-year fixed was 3.23%, down from 3.34% last week. The 5-year ARM was 3.10%, also down from 3.18% last week. Rates increased slightly near the end of the week so next week’s average should be slightly higher.
California’s unemployment rate falls to 4.9% in March – The Employment Development Department reported that California’s employers added 19,300 new non-farm jobs in March. The state’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.9% from 5% in February. Since February 2010, when the state’s unemployment peaked at 10%, California has gained 2,507,400 jobs.
California home sales and prices strong in March – Low inventory pushes prices up – The California Association of Realtors reported that home sales totaled 416,580 in March on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate. That represented a 4% increase from February’s pace and a 6.9% increase from last March. The Los Angeles Regionwas even stronger. It saw an 8.5% year over year increase in sales from March 2016. The median price paid for a home in California was $517,020. It increased 8% month over month from $478,570 in February. We did see month over month prices down in January and February, so the 8% rebound made up those declines. Year over yearthe median price was 6.8%, higher than $484,120 last March. Inventory levels decreased as less people put their homes up for sale. The unsold inventory index dropped one full month to a 3-month supply of homes for sale. That’s down from a 4-month supply in February. A 3-month supply of homes for sale is the lowest March reading ever.
U.S. Existing home sales at highest pace in over 10 years in March – The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of single family homes increased 4.4% in March to an annualized adjusted rate of 5.71 million homes. March’s sale pace is 5.9% higher than March 2016. It was the highest monthly rate of sales since February 2007.Year over year the median price paid for a home nationwide increased 6.8% from last March. It was the 61st consecutive month of year over year price gains. The number of homes for sale has dropped year over year for 22 straight months. Nationally, there is just a 3.8-month supply of homes for sale. The National Association of Realtors single family home figures include sales of detached homes, condominiums, town-homes, and co-ops.