PENDING HOME SALES
Pending home sales are a leading indicator of existing home sales. A pending sale is one in which a contract was signed, but not yet closed. Pending home sales in November declined for the third time in four months. Buyers continue to battle with both rising home prices and limited homes for sale. The pending homes sales index was down 0.9%, but still up compared from a year ago with an increase of 2.7 %. November’s dip continues the modestly slowing trend seen in the pending house market since it peaked in May.
New unemployment claims are compiled weekly to show the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time. Initial jobless claims unexpectedly jumped 20,000 to 287,000 in the December 26 holiday week. This puts jobless claims at the highest level since the July 4 holiday week. The Econoday consensus expected an increase of 3,000 to 270,000 which was far below the actual level. The 4-week moving average was up 4,500 to a level of 277,000 in the week of December 26. This makes it the highest since the week of July 18th. The level of continuing claims increased 3,000 to 2.198 million in the December 19th week. The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment was unchanged at 1.6% in the week of December 19th. It should be noted that these readings can vary and be unstable during the holiday weeks.
Consumer confidence index measures consumer attitudes about the economy, their current perceptions of business and employment conditions as well as their expectations for the next six months. Consumer confidence rebounded in December to a reading of 96.5, up from 92.6 in November. This is above Econoday expectations. The reading about the labor market was more positive in December. This proportion of the index, claiming jobs are plentiful increased from 21.0 to 24.1 percent. While those that claimed jobs were hard to get, decreased to 24.7 from 25.8 percent. Consumer optimism about the short-term outlook was mixed, though, those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased slightly to 15.2 percent from 15.7 percent and, those expecting business conditions to worsen increased slightly to 11.0 percent from 10.6 percent.