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Economic Update for the 4th Week of February 2018

Posted by Ray Dipasupil on

Stocks close higher for the week - 
Stock markets closed higher again this week despite volatility which caused major swings each day.  By week's end markets rebounded for a second week in a row  to make up much of the losses suffered in the previous two weeks as stocks move closer to record highs just one month ago.  Most companies reported higher profits  for the fourth quarter of 2017 and issued positive guidance. Walmart did not. Their online sales rose less than expected in the fourth quarter, causing the stock to drop about 13%.   The  Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the week at 25,309.99, up from last week’s close of 25,219.38. It is up 2.4% year to date. The S&P 500 closed the week at 2,747.30, up from 2,732.22 last week.  It's up 2.8% year to date. The NASDAQ closed at 7,337.39, up from 7,239.47 last week. It is up 6.3% year to date. 

Treasury Bond Yields
 -  The 10 year treasury bond closed the week yielding 2.88%,  almost unchanged from 2.86% last week. The 30-year treasury bond yield ended the week at 3.16%, up slightly from 3.13% last week. We watch bond rates because mortgage rates follow bond rates. 

Mortgage Rates stabilize this week - The February 22, 2018 Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported that the 30 year fixed mortgage rate average was 4.40%, up slightly from last week’s 4.38%. The 15 year fixed was 3.85%, up slightly from 3.84% last week. The 5-year ARM was 3.65%, slightly up from 3.63% last week.
Existing home sales nationwide decline 3.2% in January - The National Association of Realtors reported that total existing home sales dropped 3.2% in January from December's home sales rate. The median price paid for a home in January  was 5.8% higher than January 2017, the 71st straight month of year over year increases. The number of homes for sale represented a 3.4 month supply, down from 3.6 months last January. Existing home inventory in January was  down 9.5% from January 2017.  Extremely tight inventory has caused prices to increase and has begun to cause fewer sales. 

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