Home price indexes continue to rise; consumer confidence dips

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Home prices continued to increase at a modest rate across the country in October, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices.

S&P Dow Jones Indices reported Tuesday that the national home price NSA Index, covering all nine U.S. census divisions, reported a 3.3% annual gain in October, up from 3.2% in the previous month.

The 10-city composite annual increase came in at 1.7%, up from 1.5% in the previous month. The 20-city composite posted a 2.2% year-over-year gain, up from 2.1% in the previous month.

“The latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national and composite indexes confirm that the slowdown in home-price growth that we saw early in 2019 ended in late summer,” said CoreLogic Chief Economist Dr. Frank Nothaft. “Annual growth in the national index quickened for the second straight month in October and the 20-city and 10-city indexes also had a pickup in their 12-month growth rate. The decline in mortgage rates, down about one percentage point for fixed-rate loans from one year ago, has supported a rise in sales activity and home prices.”
Phoenix, Tampa and Charlotte reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities. In October, Phoenix saw a 5.8% year-over-year price increase, followed by Tampa with a 4.9% gain and Charlotte with a 4.8% rise. Twelve of the 20 cities reported greater price increases in the year ending October 2019 versus the year ending September 2019.

Price trends varied across cities depending in part on affordability constraints and population growth pressures.

“High-cost markets, where the lack of affordable housing remains a critical issue, had the largest deceleration in price growth from one-year ago, with prices declining in San Francisco on an annual basis for the third month in a row,” Nothaft said. “Of the cities in the Composite index, Phoenix and Tampa top the list of annual appreciation, reflecting rising demand from strong population growth in Arizona and Florida.”

The national index, 10-city and 20-city composites all posted a month-over-month increase of 0.1% before seasonal adjustment in October. After seasonal adjustment, the national index recorded a 0.5% month-over-month increase in October while the 10-city and 20-city composites both posted a 0.4% gain. In October, eight of 20 cities reported increases before seasonal adjustment while 18 of 20 cities reported increases after seasonal adjustment.

"October's U.S. housing data continue to be reassuring," said Craig Lazzara, managing director at S&P Dow Jones Indices. "With October's 3.3% increase in the national composite index, home prices are currently more than 15% above the pre-financial crisis peak reached July 2006. October's results were broad-based, as both our 10- and 20-city composites rose. Of the 20 cities in the composite, only San Francisco saw a year-over-year price decline in October.”

Separately, The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index slipped to 126.5 in December from a revised 126.8 in November, originally reported as 125.5.

“Consumer confidence declined marginally in December, following a slight improvement in November,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “While consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved, their expectations declined, driven primarily by a softening in their short-term outlook regarding jobs and financial prospects. While the economy hasn’t shown signs of further weakening, there is little to suggest that growth, and in particular consumer spending, will gain momentum in early 2020.”

The present situation index increased to 170.0 from 166.6 while the expectations index decreased to 97.4 from 100.3 in November.

Consumers’ appraisal of current-day conditions improved in December. Those claiming business conditions are “good” was almost unchanged at 38.7%, while those who say conditions are “bad” fell to 11.1% from 13.6%.

Consumers’ assessment of the job market was mixed. Those saying jobs are “plentiful” increased to 47.0% from 44.0% while those who said jobs are “hard to get” also increased, to 13.1% from 12.4%. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead decreased to 15.3% from 16.5%, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased to 14.9% from 13.4%.

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