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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Thursday: New Home Sales, Weekly Unemployment Claims

by Calculated Risk on 8/22/2012 08:41:00 PM

From Jon Hilsenrath and Kristina Peterson at the WSJ: Fed Moving Closer to Action

The Federal Reserve sent its strongest signal yet that it is preparing new steps to bolster the economic recovery, saying measures would be needed fairly soon unless growth substantially and convincingly picks up.
Here is Tim Duy's take: It's All About The Data
Lots of possibilities at this point. If you were looking for additional asset purchases at the last FOMC meeting, you were not crazy. There was obviously widespread concern about the mid-year slowdown and its implications for the stability of the Fed's forecasts. Moreover, policymakers appear to have concluded that additional asset purchases could be effective. If the data had continued to progress as it had since the July/August meeting, I would say that another round of QE was a slam-dunk. But the data has not progressed in the same direction; rather than falling short of expectations, it has tended toward upside surprises. That of course could change over the next few weeks. In short, we need to ask ourselves what will constitute a "substantial and sustainable strengthening." If Lockhart is a guide, I am thinking we have seen such a shift already. If so, I would expect that on the basis of current data the Fed would delay action until closer to the end of Operation Twist II and to see if Congress has come to any agreement on the fiscal situation in 2013. If the change in the data has not reached the threshold of "substantial and sustainable strengthening" then we would expect action. It will be interesting to see if any of the doves back off on their dreary forecasts in the coming days; such shifts in tone would be telling. Also note that there is a middle ground in the possibility of further changes to the communication strategy; something that could placate both the doves and the hawks until a clearer image of the path of the US economy emerges.
On Thursday:
• At 8:30 AM ET, the initial weekly unemployment claims report will be released. The consensus is for claims to decrease to 365 thousand from 366 thousand.

• At 9:00 AM, the Markit US PMI Manufacturing Index Flash. This is a new release and might provide hints about the ISM PMI for August. The consensus is for a reading of 51.0, down from 51.8 in July.

• At 10:00 AM, New Home Sales for July will be released by the Census Bureau. The consensus is for an increase in sales to 362 thousand Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) in July from 350 thousand in June. Watch for upgrades to the sales rate for previous months.

• Alst at 10:00 AM, the FHFA House Price Index for June 2012 will be released. This is based on GSE repeat sales and the consensus is for a 0.6% increase in house prices.

Another question for the monthly economic prediction contest:

Europe Note: German Chancellor Merkel and French President Hollande will meet in Berlin