Thursday, April 25, 2019

Friday: Q1 GDP

by Calculated Risk on 4/25/2019 08:25:00 PM

From Goldman Sachs today on Q1 GDP:

We boosted our Q1 GDP forecast by two tenths to +2.6% (qoq ar) ahead of tomorrow’s advance release, reflecting the firm pace of durable inventory growth and the surprising rebound in commercial aircraft shipments in March.
emphasis added
• At 8:30 AM ET, Gross Domestic Product, 1st quarter 2019 (Advance estimate). The consensus is that real GDP increased 2.0% annualized in Q1, down from 2.2% in Q4.

• At 10:00 AM, University of Michigan's Consumer sentiment index (Final for April). The consensus is for a reading of 97.1.

Merrill April Employment Report Forecast: 250K, 3.7%

by Calculated Risk on 4/25/2019 04:20:00 PM

A few brief excerpts from a Merrill Lynch research note:

We look for nonfarm payroll employment growth of 250k in the April Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) employment report, to be released on May 3rd. …

we think the strong job growth should put further downward pressure on the unemployment rate and look for it to decline to 3.7% from 3.8%. …

we look for wage growth to return back to the recent trend and forecast that average hourly earnings growth of 0.3% mom

Kansas City Fed: "Tenth District Manufacturing Activity Grew More Modestly"

by Calculated Risk on 4/25/2019 11:00:00 AM

From the Kansas City Fed: Tenth District Manufacturing Activity Grew More Modestly

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City released the April Manufacturing Survey today. According to Chad Wilkerson, vice president and economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, the survey revealed that Tenth District manufacturing activity grew more modestly, but expectations for future activity remained generally solid.

“Regional factory growth in April was a bit weaker than in March, but similar to previous months,” said Wilkerson. “About a third of firms noted that flooding and extreme weather had negatively affected their activity in recent months.”
The month-over-month composite index was 5 in April, down slightly from 10 in March but higher than 1 in February. The composite index is an average of the production, new orders, employment, supplier delivery time, and raw materials inventory indexes. Growth eased slightly in factory production of both durable and nondurable goods, particularly food, machinery, electronic, and chemical products. Most month-over-month indexes slowed in April but remained positive, with production, shipments, order backlog, and employment all decreasing. In contrast, the new orders index edged higher from 4 to 10. Most year-over-year factory indexes fell in April, and the composite index eased from 27 to 22. The future composite index also moved lower from 22 to 11, as most future factory activity indexes eased somewhat.
emphasis added
Most of the regional surveys have shown slower growth in April than in March.

HVS: Q1 2019 Homeownership and Vacancy Rates

by Calculated Risk on 4/25/2019 10:10:00 AM

The Census Bureau released the Residential Vacancies and Homeownership report for Q1 2019.

This report is frequently mentioned by analysts and the media to track household formation, the homeownership rate, and the homeowner and rental vacancy rates.  However, there are serious questions about the accuracy of this survey.

This survey might show the trend, but I wouldn't rely on the absolute numbers.  The Census Bureau is investigating the differences between the HVS, ACS and decennial Census, and analysts probably shouldn't use the HVS to estimate the excess vacant supply or household formation, or rely on the homeownership rate, except as a guide to the trend.

"National vacancy rates in the first quarter 2019 were 7.0 percent for rental housing and 1.4 percent for homeowner housing. The rental vacancy rate of 7.0 percent was virtually unchanged from the rate in the first quarter 2018, but 0.4 percentage points higher than the rate in the fourth quarter 2018 (6.6 percent). The homeowner vacancy rate of 1.4 percent was 0.1 percentage point lower than the rate in the first quarter 2018 (1.5 percent), but not statistically different from the rate in the fourth quarter 2018.

The homeownership rate of 64.2 percent was virtually unchanged from the rate in the first quarter 2018, but 0.6 percentage points lower than the rate in the fourth quarter 2018 (64.8 percent)."
Homeownership Rate Click on graph for larger image.

The Red dots are the decennial Census homeownership rates for April 1st 1990, 2000 and 2010. The HVS homeownership rate decreased to 64.2% in Q1, from 64.8% in Q4.

I'd put more weight on the decennial Census numbers - given changing demographics, the homeownership rate has bottomed.

Homeowner Vacancy RateThe HVS homeowner vacancy decreased to 1.4% in Q1.

Once again - this probably shows the general trend, but I wouldn't rely on the absolute numbers.

Rental Vacancy RateThe rental vacancy rate increased to 7.0% in Q1.

The quarterly HVS is the most timely survey on households, but there are many questions about the accuracy of this survey.

Overall this suggests that vacancies have declined significantly, and my guess is the homeownership rate has bottomed - and that the rental vacancy rate is close to the bottom for this cycle.

Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims Increased to 230,000

by Calculated Risk on 4/25/2019 08:34:00 AM

The DOL reported:

In the week ending April 20, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 230,000, an increase of 37,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 192,000 to 193,000. The 4-week moving average was 206,000, an increase of 4,500 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 201,250 to 201,500.
emphasis added
The previous week was revised up.

The following graph shows the 4-week moving average of weekly claims since 1971.

Click on graph for larger image.

The dashed line on the graph is the current 4-week average. The four-week average of weekly unemployment claims increased to 206,000.

This was well above the consensus forecast.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Thursday: Unemployment Claims, Durable Goods, Q1 Housing Vacancies and Homeownership

by Calculated Risk on 4/24/2019 07:26:00 PM

• At 8:30 AM: The initial weekly unemployment claims report will be released. The consensus is for 200 thousand initial claims, up from 192 thousand the previous week.

• At 8:30 AM: Durable Goods Orders for March from the Census Bureau. The consensus is for a 0.8% increase in durable goods orders.

• At 10:00 AM: the Q1 2019 Housing Vacancies and Homeownership from the Census Bureau.

Chemical Activity Barometer Increases in April

by Calculated Risk on 4/24/2019 03:28:00 PM

Note: This appears to be a leading indicator for industrial production.

From the American Chemistry Council: Chemical Activity Barometer Shows Second Monthly Gain in April

The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), a leading economic indicator created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), rose 0.5 percent in April on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis, the second monthly gain after several weak months.
The latest CAB signals gains in U.S. commercial and industrial activity through mid-2019, but at a slow pace,” said Kevin Swift, chief economist at ACC. “As a result, the recovery and expansion underway is likely to surpass the record of 120 months set during the 1990s. The CAB reading suggests that there are glimmers of hope for improving activity in the closing months of the year.”
Applying the CAB back to 1912, it has been shown to provide a lead of two to fourteen months, with an average lead of eight months at cycle peaks as determined by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The median lead was also eight months. At business cycle troughs, the CAB leads by one to seven months, with an average lead of four months. The median lead was three months. The CAB is rebased to the average lead (in months) of an average 100 in the base year (the year 2012 was used) of a reference time series. The latter is the Federal Reserve’s Industrial Production Index.
emphasis added
Chemical Activity Barometer Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the year-over-year change in the 3-month moving average for the Chemical Activity Barometer compared to Industrial Production.  It does appear that CAB (red) generally leads Industrial Production (blue).

The year-over-year increase in the CAB suggests further gains in industrial production into 2019, but at a slow pace.

Philly Fed: State Coincident Indexes increased in 37 states in March

by Calculated Risk on 4/24/2019 10:58:00 AM

From the Philly Fed:

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia has released the coincident indexes for the 50 states for March 2019. Over the past three months, the indexes increased in 44 states, decreased in five states, and remained stable in one, for a three-month diffusion index of 78. In the past month, the indexes increased in 37 states, decreased in eight states, and remained stable in five, for a one-month diffusion index of 58.
emphasis added
Note: These are coincident indexes constructed from state employment data. An explanation from the Philly Fed:
The coincident indexes combine four state-level indicators to summarize current economic conditions in a single statistic. The four state-level variables in each coincident index are nonfarm payroll employment, average hours worked in manufacturing by production workers, the unemployment rate, and wage and salary disbursements deflated by the consumer price index (U.S. city average). The trend for each state’s index is set to the trend of its gross domestic product (GDP), so long-term growth in the state’s index matches long-term growth in its GDP.
Philly Fed State Conincident Map Click on map for larger image.

Here is a map of the three month change in the Philly Fed state coincident indicators. This map was all red during the worst of the recession, and all or mostly green during most of the recent expansion.

The map is mostly green on a three month basis, but there are some red and grey (unchanged) states.

Source: Philly Fed.

Note: For complaints about red / green issues, please contact the Philly Fed.

Philly Fed Number of States with Increasing ActivityAnd here is a graph is of the number of states with one month increasing activity according to the Philly Fed. This graph includes states with minor increases (the Philly Fed lists as unchanged).

In March, 41 states had increasing activity (including minor increases).

New Home Prices

by Calculated Risk on 4/24/2019 09:26:00 AM

As part of the new home sales report released yesterday, the Census Bureau reported the number of homes sold by price and the average and median prices.

From the Census Bureau: "The median sales price of new houses sold in March 2019 was $302,700. The average sales price was $376,000."

The following graph shows the median and average new home prices.

New Home Prices Click on graph for larger image.

During the housing bust, the builders had to build smaller and less expensive homes to compete with all the distressed sales.  When housing started to recovery - with limited finished lots in recovering areas - builders moved to higher price points to maximize profits.

Now it appears the home builders are offering some less expensive (and probably smaller) homes.

The average price in Mar 2019 2018 was $376,300, and the median price was $302,700.

The second graph shows the percent of new homes sold by price.

New Home Sales by PriceAbout 6% of new homes sold were under $150K in Mar 2019.  This is down from 30% in 2002, but up from recent levels.  In general, the under $150K bracket is going away.   

The $400K+ bracket increased significantly since the housing recovery started, but has started to decline.  Still, a majority of new homes (about 56%) in the U.S., are in the $200K to $400K range.

MBA: Mortgage Applications Decreased in Latest Weekly Survey

by Calculated Risk on 4/24/2019 07:00:00 AM

From the MBA: Mortgage Applications Decrease in Latest MBA Weekly Survey

Mortgage applications decreased 7.3 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending April 19, 2019.

... The Refinance Index decreased 11 percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 4 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 3 percent compared with the previous week and was 3 percent higher than the same week one year ago.
“The 30-year fixed mortgage rate has risen 10 basis points in three weeks, and is now at its highest level in over a month. Borrowers remain extremely sensitive to rate changes, which is why there has been a 28 percent drop in refinance applications over this three-week period. Purchase activity also declined, but remains almost 3 percent higher than a year ago,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. “Borrowing costs have recently drifted higher because of ebbing geopolitical concerns, as well as signs of strengthening in the U.S. economy, including the recent data pointing to robust retail sales.”

Added Fratantoni, “The strong economy and job market is keeping buyer interest high, but rising mortgage rates could add pressure to the budgets of some would-be buyers.”
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($484,350 or less) increased to 4.46 percent from 4.44 percent, with points increasing to 0.44 from 0.42 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans.
emphasis added
Mortgage Refinance IndexClick on graph for larger image.

The first graph shows the refinance index since 1990.

Once mortgage rates fell more than 50 bps from the highs of last year, a number of recent buyers were able to refinance.  But it would take another significant decrease in rates to see a further increase in refinance activity.

Mortgage Purchase Index The second graph shows the MBA mortgage purchase index

According to the MBA, purchase activity is up 3% year-over-year.