Trade talks lift stocks – Stocks rose by over 2% this week as volatility continued in the financial markets. Huge swings have continued over the last 8 weeks as investors weigh new information and speculation on global trade, political uncertainty, monetary policy, a new Federal Reserve Chairman, a new Treasury Secretary nominee, and corporate profits. This week, negotiations with China led investors to believe that a trade war may be averted. Stocks made up most of the previous week’s loses when stocks were rocked by China’s response of placing tariffs on U.S. goods in retaliation to the Trump administration’s tariffs placed on Chinese goods. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the week at 24,103.11, up from last week’s close of 23,533.20. It is down 2.5% year-to-date. The S&P 500 closed the week at 2,649.87, up from 2,588.26 last week. It’s down 1.2% year-to-date. The NASDAQ closed at 7,063.44, up from 6,992.67 last week. It is up 2.3% year-to-date.
Stocks were down for the second consecutive month – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the month at 24,103.11, down from its February 28, 2018 close of 25,029.20, which was down over 1,000 points from its January 31, 2018 close of 26,076.89. It has dropped almost 2,000 points in two months. The S&P 500 closed the month of March at 2,649.87, down from its February 28, 2018 close of 2,713.83. The NASDAQ closed the month at 7,063.44, down form its February 28 close of 7,273.01.
Treasury Bond Yields – Bond yields lower this week – The 10-year treasury bond closed the week yielding 2.74%, down from 2.82% last week. It was 2.87% on February 28, 2018. The 30-year treasury bond yield ended the week at 2.97%, down from 3.06% last week. The 30-year was 3.13% on February 28. We watch bond rates because mortgage rates follow bond rates.
Mortgage Rates almost unchanged this week – The March 29, 2018 Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate average was 4.44%, unchanged from last week’s 4.45% The 15-year fixed was 3.90%, unchanged from 3.91% last week. The 5-year ARM was 3.66%, unchanged from 3.68% last week. Rates were slightly lower on Friday. Expect next week’s survey to have rates slightly lower. For the month, rates were unchanged from rates on March 1.
U.S. existing home sales bounce back in February – Prices continue to rise – The National Association of Realtors reported that total existing home sales, which are recorded transactions of all single family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, grew 3% in February. In the first two months of 2018, sales are 1.1% above the same period last year. The median price paid for a home in the U.S. increased by 5.9%, from February 2017. That marked the 72nd straight month of year-over-year price increases. The unsold inventory index stood at a 3.4 month supply in February, down from 3.8 months in February 2017. Year-over-year inventory levels have fallen for 33 consecutive months.
California existing home sales pick up in February – The California Association of Realtors announced that existing home sales totaled 422,910 on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate in February. That represented a 3.3% increase from the number of sales in January, and a 5.4% increase from last February’s number of sales. Prices also increased with the statewide median price $522,440, an increase of 8.8% from one year ago. After hitting a 14-year low in December, the number of homes for sale increased for a second straight month. The unsold inventory index rose to a 3.9-month supply of homes in February, up from a 3.6-month supply in January. There was a 4 month supply of homes for sale in February 2017.