Stock markets lost ground this week - Stocks retreated this week after the number of new coronavirus cases increased, fueling fears of a global economic slowdown. China, the number one exporter of products and the number two economy, has entire regions where people are quarantined in their homes. They cannot go to work, or shop. It is widely believed that China’s moves to add stimulus to their economy will help. Yet the economic impact to China will still spill over to the rest of the world. Investors in the U.S. feel safe with the economy so strong, allowing markets to stay quite solid. Major U.S. stock market indexes hit all-time highs just one week ago but dropped off those highs this week as analysts forecasted a softening in corporate profits in the next quarter due to the impact of the coronavirus. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the week at 28,992.41, down 0.4% from 29,108.51 last week. It’s up 2.6% year to date. The S&P 500 closed the week at 3,327.75, down 1.6% from 3,380.16 last week. It’s up 3.0% year to date. The NASDAQ closed the week at 9,576.59, down 1.6% from 9,731.18 last week. It’s up 6.9% year to date.
U.S. treasury bond yields – The 10-year treasury bond closed the week yielding 1.46%, down from 1.59% last week. The 30-year treasury bond yield ended the week at 1.90%, down from 2.04% last week. We watch treasury bond yields because mortgage rates often follow bond yields.
Mortgage rates remain at lowest levels in 3 years - The Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey released on February 20, 2020 reported mortgage rates for the most popular loan products as follows: The 30-year fixed mortgage rate average was 3.49%, almost unchanged from 3.47% last week. The 15-year fixed was 2.99%, almost unchanged from 2.97% last week. The 5-year ARM was 3.25%, down slightly from 3.28% last week. Rates were even lower on Friday. Expect next week’s rates to be about 1/8% lower if they remain at Friday’s levels.
January 2020 California home sales report - The California Association of Realtors reported that existing single-family home sales totaled 396,550 in January on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate. That marked a 10.3% increase from the number of homes sold last January. It should be noted that January 2019 marked the fewest sales in a month in over a decade. The number of sales has rebounded over the last several months. The statewide median price was $575,160, down 6.5% from December, and up 7.1% from last January. The median price is the point at which ½ the homes sell for more and ½ the homes sell for less. Perhaps there were an unusual number of sales at the lower end in January, as we have seen prices increasing rapidly due to multiple offers and low inventory. The unsold inventory index in January was 3.4 months, down from 4.6 months in January 2019. On a regional level the number of sales, median price, and supply of housing were as follows: In Los Angeles County the number of sales increased 16.7% from last January. The median price paid for a home in Los Angeles County was $617,520, up 9.1% from January 2019. There was a3.2-month supply, down from a 4.9-month supply one year ago. In Orange County the number of homes sold increased 22.1% from one year ago. Themedian price paid for a home in Orange County was $855,000, up 7.3% from last January. There was a 3.4-month supply, down from a 5.4-month supply one year ago. In Ventura County the number of sales rose 13.9% from January 2019. The median price in Ventura County was $660,000, up 7.3% from January 2019. There was a 4.8-month supply of homes for sale, down from a 7.2 month supply last January.