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Existing home sales  dropped -6.4% in December to an annualized rate of 4.99 million, the lowest rate of sales in more than three years. Other than a small increase in February, year over year sales fell every month in 2018 with December’s drop the steepest at -10.3%. The median sales price fell -1.4% to $253,600 (+2.9% Y/Y), and the number of sales fell the most for homes in the < $100,000 range (-19.6%) followed by sales for homes priced > $1 million (-13.3%). Sales for condominiums fell more steeply at -12.9% to 540,000 (-11.5% Y/Y) as compared to a -5.5% drop for single family homes to 4.45 million (-10.1% Y/Y).
The Federal Reserve Banks of both Richmond  and Kansas City  issued their regional surveys of manufacturing activity for January, with the Richmond survey’s results pointing to weak growth while the Kansas City survey’s results showed continued modest growth. New orders dropped to -11, their lowest reading since June 2016, in the Richmond survey, and remained relatively flat at +1 in the Kansas City survey. Both reports cited growth in employment along with difficulties in finding skilled workers, and selected comments in the Kansas City report included business uncertainties due to tariffs and the federal government shutdown.
The IHS Markit Flash US Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI)  for January showed more robust growth for private sector companies than was seen in either of the Federal Reserve manufacturing surveys, with a rebound in new orders from a 14 month low the previous month and a marginal increase in backlogs of work. The report also showed that hiring slowed with some respondents citing efforts to improve productivity and streamline costs. Manufacturing production hit an 8-month high, with domestic demand making up for a slowdown in export sales, but supply chains were stretched as a result of lengthening vendor lead times and trade tariffs helped contribute to higher costs for imported raw materials.
Upcoming Economic Reports:
Wednesday January 30 – FOMC Meeting Announcement
Friday February 1 – Employment Situation
|Merck & Co