The Independent Market Observer

Monday Update: Existing Home Sales Decline in May

Posted by Sam Millette

This entry was posted on Jun 27, 2022 9:49:54 AM

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Monday UpdateIt was a relatively quiet week for economic updates, with only one major data release last week. Existing home sales fell in May, marking four consecutive months of slower sales and highlighting the headwinds for the housing industry created by rising prices and mortgage rates. This will be a busier week of updates, with reports scheduled that will touch on business spending, consumer and manufacturer confidence, and personal income and spending.

Last Week’s News

On Tuesday, the May existing home sales report was released. Sales of existing homes fell 3.4 percent during the month against calls for a 3.7 percent decline. This brought the pace of existing home sales to its lowest point since early 2020; however, it did leave the pace of sales near pre-pandemic levels. Housing sales surged in the second half of 2020 and remained strong throughout 2021 as shifting home buyer preference and low mortgage rates spurred purchases. We saw sales spike again in January 2022, but the pace of existing home sales has declined every month since then, due to a lack of supply of homes for sale, rising mortgage rates, and high home prices. Looking forward, economists largely expect to see continued headwinds for the housing industry, as rising costs and rates are expected to stifle future sales growth. That said, slowing home sales may help to combat inflation given the large rise in prices we’ve seen over the past year and the importance of housing costs on overall inflation.

What to Look Forward To

On Monday, the preliminary estimate of the May durable goods orders report was released. Orders of durable goods increased by more than expected during the month, as headline orders grew 0.7 percent against calls for a 0.1 percent increase. This strong result was driven by a broad-based increase in orders, as core durable goods orders, which strip out volatile transportation orders, rose 0.7 percent against calls for a 0.3 percent increase. Core durable goods orders are viewed as a proxy for business investment, so this better-than-expected result is a good sign for business spending in the second quarter. Business confidence and spending have been supported by high levels of consumer demand throughout the year, and the continued business spending growth is an encouraging sign that business owners remain confident in the ongoing economic expansion.

On Tuesday, the Conference Board Consumer Confidence survey for June is set to be released. Consumer confidence is expected to decline during the month, with the index set to drop from 106.4 in May to 100.6 in June. This anticipated result would mark two consecutive months of declining confidence and would leave the index at its lowest level since February 2021. The drop in confidence in May was primarily due to rising concerns about the impact of inflation on the economy. Given the continued high level of consumer inflation in June, the anticipated drop in confidence makes sense. Looking forward, we’ll likely need to see evidence of slowing inflation before we see confidence approach the pandemic-era highs we saw last June. Historically, lower confidence levels tend to serve as a headwind for consumer spending growth, so this will be an important area to monitor in the months ahead.

On Thursday, the May personal income and personal spending reports are set to be released. Personal spending is set to increase 0.5 percent during the month, down from the 0.9 percent increase in April but still solid on a historical basis. This would mark five consecutive months of personal spending growth, which would be a solid result given the headwinds created by the pandemic at the start of the year and persistently high inflation throughout the economy. Consumer spending has been supported by high levels of pent-up consumer demand for goods and services this year, as well as rising wages and high levels of saving. Personal income is expected to increase 0.5 percent during the month following a 0.4 percent increase in April. Personal income growth was extremely volatile on a month-to-month basis throughout 2020 and 2021 due to shifting federal stimulus and unemployment payments; however, if estimates hold, this would mark eight straight months of income growth, highlighting the strength of the labor market recovery.

We’ll finish the week with Friday’s release of the ISM Manufacturing survey for June. This measure of manufacturer confidence is set to fall from 56.1 in May to 55 in June. This is a diffusion index where values above 50 indicate growth, so this anticipated result would still be a sign of expansion for the manufacturing industry during the month despite the expected decline for the index. Manufacturing confidence has remained in solid expansionary territory ever since the expiration of initial lockdowns in mid-2020, but we’ve started to see a downward trend in sentiment in 2022. If estimates hold, the index would hit its lowest level since July 2020, signaling rising manufacturer concern about the health of the economy. High levels of producer inflation, driven by tangled global supply chains and rising material and labor costs, have served as headwinds for manufacturers this year. That said, manufacturing output has continued to improve in 2022, driven by high levels of consumer and business demand for manufactured goods.

That’s it for this week—thanks for reading!

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