Market Updates – February 2024

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Here's the latest Market Updates. Click on the "Download PDF" to view or click through the slides above to view.

1.) Personal Consumption Expenditures (January 2024)

The Fed’s favored inflation measure, Core PCE, continues to move closer to its 2% target as the annual reading fell to 2.8% for the 12 months ending in January. This was well below 2022’s 5.6% peak and the lowest level since March 2021. But the question remains - when will the Fed think inflation is low enough for them to start cutting rates this year?

2.) MBS Highway Housing Index (February 2024):

February 2024 witnessed a massive increase in the MBS Highway National Housing Index, which rose 13 points to 55 (from 42 in January 2024). This was driven primarily by a 16-point jump in the Buyer Activity sub-index (from 33 to 49). While part of this increase is normal seasonality, there is little doubt that buyers have been reenergized by lower mortgage rates, slightly higher inventory, and the prospect of Fed rate cuts ahead.

3.) BLS Jobs Report (February 2024):

February job growth came in above forecasts, with 275K jobs created per the BLS. However, revisions to the data for December and January shaved a whooping 167K jobs from those months combined. The unemployment rate also rose from 3.7% to 3.9%, the first increase since October.

4.) ADP Employment Report (February 2024):

February saw slower-than-expected job growth in the private sector, as employers added just 140K new jobs versus the 150K that were forecasted. However, January’s total was revised higher, and ADP noted that “employment growth remained steady” and “pay gains for job-changers accelerated for the first time in more than a year.

5.) Home Builder Sentiment (February 2024):

Home builder confidence rose for the third straight month, reaching the highest level since last August. The NAHB noted that this boost to builder sentiment is due to a lack of existing home inventory, expectations that mortgage rates will continue to moderate, and the prospect of future rate cuts by the Fed. Plus, in a good sign for much-needed supply, the NAHB expects single-family starts to rise around 5% this year.

6.) New Home Sales (January 2024):

Signed contracts on new homes rose for the second straight month in January, up 1.5% from December and 1.8% from a year earlier. The lack of existing homes for sale continues to boost the new construction market and, in a good sign for much-needed supply, the NAHB recently noted that they’re expecting construction for single-family homes to rise this year.

7.) Change in Home Value after 10 years:

Talk about a winning record! Buying a home and holding it for 10 years has earned a profit every year except one since 1942. Just look at those returns, too! Housing builds significant, long-term wealth.

The Levinson Team



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