Fed has increasingly accommodative stance as trade battles weigh on economy. At its latest meeting, the Federal Reserve showed a greater willingness to ease policy rates in the near term. Chairman Powell pointed to weaker inflation and economic data, together with uncertainty amid trade tensions between the United States and China. The Fed reinforced its willingness to let inflation rise above the 2 percent level going forward, a no-table shift in its historical policy framework… Read More
Mortgage rates falling but home sales still soft. Though mortgage rates have declined 80 basis points since they peaked last November, single-family home sales remain sluggish. An increased preference for rentals, the limited number of entry-level homes for sale and caution surrounding the economic outlook are restraining buyers. Move-up homebuyers are less active in the market than in previous cycles, while renters are choosing to remain in apartments. Rentals are also attracting some baby boomers… Read More
Recent hiring trends fall below pre-tax stimulus job growth. Employers created 224,000 jobs in June, bringing the total so far this year to 1.03 million. That is the lowest first-half sum since 2010, although comparable periods in 2016 and 2017 reported only slightly higher employment growth. The fiscal stimulus from tax reform encouraged greater hiring in 2018, but as those effects fade, staffs are expanding at a slower pace, further hindered by historically low unemployment.
Hiring softens, unemployment rate unchanged in May. Employers added 75,000 jobs last month, maintaining a historically low unemployment rate of 3.6 percent. Downward revisions to March and April’s figures offset June’s gains, taking the average number of new hires to 164,000 per month in 2019. Last year, a monthly average of 223,000 jobs were created.
Consumption rise supported by diverse drivers. Retail spending picked up in June, climbing 3.8 percent on an annual basis for the third time in the past four months. Stable consumption is supported by a strong economic foundation, highlighted by continued job creation and healthy inflation. The Fed will likely cut interest rates at the end of July, providing a boost to the economy.
Consumption underpinned by elevated consumer optimism. Retail sales remained steady in May, increasing 3.2 percent over the past year. Though this is slightly lower than the previous two months, spending appears to have further stabilized following heightened levels of consumption for much of 2018. Sustained economic optimism is supporting this trend as consumer confidence stays near historical highs.
Housing outlook rises as mortgage rates fall. Existing home sales fell for the second consecutive month in April, as the higher mortgage rates weighed on demand and the limited supply of available homes left entry-level buyers with few options. Though the housing market has had its challenges, builder sentiment is improving, leading to a moderate rise in permit issuance and housing starts.
Slight pickup in construction unlikely to alter demand dynamics. Amid steady job growth in the New York City economy, the apartment market is booming as single-family homes remain unreachable for most residents. Following the cyclical peak in multifamily construction in 2017, development has steadily declined, prompting incredibly tight vacancy rates metro-wide. All boroughs, with the exception of Manhattan, maintain vacancy rates below 2 percent, which has begun to sponsor tremendous growth in the average effective… Read More
Improved employment growth supporting historically low joblessness. Employers added 236,000 positions in April, bringing the year’s total job creation to 820,000, which is on par with previous years in this cycle. Expanded hiring activity compared with March drove the unemployment rate down to 3.6 percent, its lowest level in nearly 50 years.
Trade talks with China break down; protectionist policies accelerating. Following over a year of discussion with China, trade talks broke down, prompting the White House to raise tariffs to 25 percent on $200 billion of Chinese imports. The recent escalation represents the latest developments in trade talks that have been ongoing for over a year. Notable tariffs are currently in place covering steel and aluminum, as well as washing machines and solar panels. However, the… Read More