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St. Louis Fed President James Bullard says he sees the unemployment rate possibly falling to 7% in 2020. The prediction was part of a generally optimistic view on the economic recovery.

Mortgage rates, as tracked by Freddie Mac, hit a record low for the 6th time since the coronavirus outbreak. Rates are likely to remain low as confirmed cases continue to rise.

Initial jobless claims fell last week, but a record 32.9 million were collecting unemployment checks, as the labor market continued recovery from the COVID-19 slump.

 

 

Construction hiring surged in May, after an accelerated pace of layoffs in March and April. The 9.6% hiring rate was the strongest in the history of the JOLTS data.

After a brief pullback at the end of June, purchase mortgage applications spiked 33% over a year ago and grew 5% over the previous week, as buyers took advantage of low rates.

Fannie Mae reports returning consumer confidence in the housing market. 61% of June's survey respondents said it was a good time to buy, up from 52% in May.

 


 

Consumer confidence jumped more than expected in June, as loosened stay-at-home and quarantine restrictions raised hope for an economic recovery.

The labor market rebound accelerated in June with the gradual re-opening of the economy. Payrolls rose by 4.8 million, and unemployment fell to 11.1% from more than 13% in May.

Fed minutes released from last month's meeting noted a need for "highly accommodative monetary policy for some time," which signals mortgage rates should remain low.

 

According to Case-Shiller, home price gains remained steady in April despite the coronavirus pandemic. The index posted a 4% year-over-year increase, up 3.9% from March.

Pending home sales were up in May, spiking a record 44.3% over April. That beat expectations of a 15% rise, although sales were still 5.1% lower than last year.

Inventory of homes for sale continues to hold back the housing market. The supply of existing homes in May was nearly 19% lower annually according to NAR.

 


 

Mortgage rates continue to hover at record lows, and the FHFA reports April home values up 5.5% over last year. Low rates and strong prices create opportunities for homebuyers and owners.

The International Monetary Fund now expects the U.S. economy to contract by 8% this year, more than the 5% they forecast in April. Negative growth can keep rates low.

Initial jobless claims were 1.48 million last week, lower than the previous week but above expectations. Continuing claims declined more than expected to 19.5 million.

 

 

The NAR expects home sales to climb as in-person showings return. With the nationwide lockdown, May's existing home sales fell 9.7% from April and 26% annually.

Sales of newly built homes jumped far more than expected in May, up nearly 13% annually. After slowing dramatically in March, they posted the strongest May pace since 2007.

However, May's single-family housing starts were nearly 18% lower annually, and building permits, an indicator of future construction, were down about 10%.

 


 

 

Retail sales rose 17.7% in May, well above the 8% forecast. Although still below prior levels, it was the biggest one-month jump of all time.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell warned of 'significant uncertainty' about the economic recovery in his semi-annual testimony before Congress, echoing his tone from last week.

A second wave of layoffs and tepid demand saw initial jobless claims come in at 1.508 million last week. However, claims were lower for the 11th period in a row.

 

 

A strong rebound in permits suggests the new home market is starting to emerge from the covid crisis. Housing starts rose in May, though less than expected.

Home builder sentiment posted its biggest monthly surge ever in June, helped by a faster-than-expected turnaround in homebuyer demand.

Purchase mortgage applications hit an 11-year high last week as rates dropped. Apps were up 4% over the previous week and were 21% higher than a year ago.

 

 


 

Consumer prices fell for the 3rd straight month in May. Underlying inflation was weak, as demand remained subdued. Low inflation typically helps keep rates low.

At their June meeting, the Fed renewed their commitment to purchasing mortgage bonds. Their purchases increase demand and support low rates.

Initial jobless claims last week came in at 1.542 million, continuing the trend of weekly improvement. The continued claims number also fell to 20.929 million, from 21.268 million.

   

The pandemic seems to have made buyers even more eager to purchase a home. A recent survey shows first-time buyers and millennials may be the most motivated.

Housing experts predict the pandemic may make consumers more dependent on agents moving forward. Agents are increasingly employing technology to digitize sales.

The pandemic will likely speed employers' adoption of remote work. As consumers untether from offices, they will have more flexibility to move away from expensive cities.

 

 


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