Economic update for the week ending May 31, 2019

Stock markets dropped for fourth straight week on trade war fears – Stocks dropped sharply this week as increased trade tensions with China led to a fourth straight week of losses. To make investors more depressed President Trump announced that he would take emergency powers and place a 5% tariff on all goods from Mexico beginning June 10, which will increase over time to 25% unless Mexico does something to stem illegal immigration.  That announcement which caused another steep decline on Friday. All in all the DOW and S&P 500 declined 7%, and the NASDAQ declined 8% in May, its worst May since 2010.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the week at 24,815.04 down 3.0% from 25,585.69 last week, and down 7% from 26,554.39 on April 30.  It’s up 6.4% year to date. The S&P 500 closed the week at 2,752.06, down 2.6%  from 2,826.06 last week, and down 7% from 2,943.03 on April 30.  It is up 9.8% year to date. The NASDAQ closed the week at 7,453.15, down 2.4% from 7,637.01 last week, and down 8% from 8,161.85 on April 30. The NASDAQ is up 12.3%  year to date.

Treasury Bond Yields at lowest levels in 21 months – Trade and tariff fears caused investors to sell off stocks and move to the safety of low yielding treasury bonds, which has driven yields down to 18 month lows. The 10-year treasury bond closed the week yielding 2.14%, down from 2.32%  last week. The 30-year treasury bond yield ended the week at 2.58% down from 2.75%  last week. We watch treasury bond yields because mortgage rates follow bond yield yields.

Mortgage rates dropped to 18 month lows this week – The  May 30, 2019 Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate average was 3.99%, down  from 4.06% last week. The 15-year fixed was 3.46%, down  from 3.51% last week. The 5-year ARM was 3.60%, down from 3.66% last week. Rates were even lower on Friday. Expect next weeks survey rates to be close to 3.80% on a 30 year fixed!

U.S. pending home sales fall slightly for the 16th straight month in April – Although really just a slight drop, the number of pending existing homes sold have declined on a year over year basis for 16 straight months, according to data released Thursday by The National Association of Realtors. They reported that pending existing home sales in April dropped 1.5% month over month from March, and dropped 2% year over year from last April. Existing home sales are calculated by the number of existing homes that went under contract and were reported to MLS and Realtor Associations throughout the country. Existing sales include re-sale single family homes, town-homes, condominiums, and co-ops.  Following the announcement NAR Chief Economist stated that “it’s  inevitable that sales turn higher in a few months.” He cited increased demand, a strong economy, and far lower interest rates than we have seen over the last 16 months to support his optimistic view.

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