4/16: MetroIntelligence Economic Update by P. DUFFY

April builder confidence index plummets 42 points to lowest level since June 2012

Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes plunged 42 points in April to 30, for the largest single monthly change in the history of the index and the lowest reading since June 2012. It is also the first time that builder confidence has been in negative territory (below 50) since June 2014.  The index gauging current sales conditions dropped 43 points to 36, the component measuring sales expectations in the next six months fell 39 points to 36 and the gauge charting traffic of prospective buyers also decreased 43 points to 13.



March new home mortgage applications rose 14 percent from February and 21.2 percent year-on-year

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Builder Application Survey (BAS) data for March 2020 shows mortgage applications for new home purchases increased 21.2 percent compared from a year ago. Compared to February 2020, applications increased by 14 percent. This change does not include any adjustment for typical seasonal patterns.



Mortgage applications rise 7.3 percent, rates slip slightly

The Market Composite Index increased 7.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier, with purchase loans falling 2 percent (and down 35 percent year-on-year) and refinance activity rising 10 percent (and up 192 percent year-on-year). The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 3.45 percent from 3.49 percent.



March retail sales declined 8.7 percent from February and 6.2 percent year-on-year

U.S. retail and food services sales for March 2020 were $483.1 billion, a decrease of 8.7 percent from the previous month, and 6.2 percent below March 2019.  This decline was the largest monthly decline in the history of the series.



March industrial production fell 5.4 percent from February and 5.5 percent year-on-year

Total industrial production fell 5.4 percent in March, as the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic led many factories to suspend operations late in the month. The decreases for total industrial production and for manufacturing were their largest since January 1946 and February 1946, respectively. At 103.7 percent of its 2012 average, the level of total industrial production in March was 5.5 percent lower than a year earlier. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector decreased 4.3 percentage points to 72.7 percent in March, a rate that is 7.1 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2019) average.