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Home Prices Rose 0.9% In June

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WASHINGTON (8/28/13)--U.S. home prices rose in June, although at a slower pace than in May, an indication that the rate of improvement in the housing market could be slowing (MarketWatch, The New York Times and Bloomberg.com Aug. 27).
 
The S&P/Case Shiller composite index of home prices in 20 metropolitan areas increased 0.9% on a seasonally adjusted basis. Prices gained 2.2% on a non-adjusted basis. 
 
On an annual basis, home prices in all 20 cities rose, topped by a 24.9% spike in Las Vegas, followed by a 24.5% increase in San Francisco.
 
However, only six cities saw prices increase in June at a faster pace than in May--when 10 cities saw prices rise, the Times said.
 
Escalating property values are bolstering household wealth, which helps fortify the consumer spending that comprises 70% of the U.S. economy, Bloomberg said.
 
However, a leap in mortgage rates suggests home sales and refinancing could be restrained--and that would make it harder for consumers to tap into home equity, Bloomberg added.

August Consumer Confidence Up More Than Expected

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NEW YORK (8/28/13)--Consumer confidence among U.S. citizens unexpectedly rose in August while Americans' views on the economy became more positive (Bloomberg.com and Moody's Economy.com Aug. 27). 
 
Private New York-based research group The Conference Board said its index of sentiment rose to 81.5 from 81 in July. The median August forecast of economists was 79, according to a Bloomberg survey.
 
Increased wealth connected to higher stock portfolios and home values, and ongoing job growth are helping to maintain household spending, Bloomberg said.   
 
Consumers anticipate more income gains and employment opportunities in the next six months, the Conference Board's report indicated, said Bloomberg.
 
As interest rates stabilize, there may be fading concern about interest rates heading upward, and there is ongoing good news about jobs and wealth accumulation, Jonathan Basile, an economist at Credit Suisse in New York, told Bloomberg