It’s going to be a slow week cut short by the President’s Day holiday, but there are a number of indices coming out this week that should shed some additional light on where the housing market is heading for servicers, lenders and investors.
1) FOMC minutes, housing starts and manufacturing
This week there will be reports on housing starts, housing sales and manufacturing, as well as the release of minutes from the central bank’s January Federal Open Markets Committee meeting.
Early reports for January already show that the first quarter is off to a weak start. Some are blaming it on weather disruptions that are still carrying over into this month, while others are pointing to broader, fundamental weaknesses that have nothing to do with winter weather.
2) Empire State Manufacturing Survey and Philadelphia Fed survey
No surprise to anyone with cable news, the Northeast has been caught up in another winter storm that will likely affect the Empire State Manufacturing Survey and Thursday’s Philadelphia Fed survey.
The cold weather will also be cited in Wednesday’s report of housing starts, although oddly enough, February’s jobs report showed that construction gained the most jobs in January. Perhaps it was construction in the large swathe of the United States not affected by the cold weather.
3) Conference Board, existing home sales, jobless claims
Thursday will see the Conference Board’s release of its leading indicators report.
Expect a slowdown in existing home sales in the report on Friday, owing maybe to the weather, but owing as much to higher mortgage rates and price inflation driven by investor sales.
Thursday’s jobless claims number is going to provide the murkiest tea leaves. While week-to-week jobless claims aren’t a good measure, the four-week running average will tell the tale of whether the decline in claims in 2013 is no longer with us, and whether the number of claims will settle at the worrying level of above 300,000.