The NAR reported that pending home sales declined -2.2% m/m in December. Since this is based on contract signings, it suggests that *existing* home sales will continue to decline for the next month or two.
A few commentators have expressed surprise at the negative number, since mortgage rates declined in December. The problem with this reasoning is that mortgage rates only declined to where they were in September, and were higher than at any previous point during last year. Just as in purchase mortgage applications, the continued decline in rates for most of January might be more positive.
In short, the shallow downturn in housing that we saw since the beginning of last year isn’t over yet.
In the meantime, Friday’s employment report will give us a look at construction employment, and since that usually turns down before a recession begins, it will bear heightened notice. I have an extended post on this pending at Seeking Alpha, and will link to it once it is posted.
ok, so seasonaly adjusted construction employment was up 52K in January, probably the best reading this year…
HOWEVER, December weather was warmer than normal, and so were the first two weeks of January; ie, natural gas withdrawals from storage for the two week including the reference week for January payrolls were 20 billion cubic feet and 81 bcf, vs a January norm of around 200 bcf per week….so because it was warm, the normal wintertime construction layoffs did not occur, thus boosting seasonally adjusted employment..
actual construction employment was down 245K…so that SA +52k may mean they had expected actual construction employment to be down around 295K..