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The National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Pending Home Sales Index , which tracks the number of homes that are under contract to be sold, rose 7.5% in October to 125.2, a significant reversal from September’s 2.3% decline. However, home-buying activity is showing signs of moderation as the year over year pending sales figures are down 1.4%. Month over month pending home sales increased in all four regions – signings rose in the Midwest (+11.8% to 124.6) and South (+8.0% to 149.7), followed by the Northeast (+6.9% to 99.5) and the West (+2.1% to 107.5). Year over year figures were mixed with increases reported from the Midwest (+5.1%) and South (+0.6%), while the Northeast (-10%) and West (-6.2%) both posted decreases. Total 2021 existing home sales are set to top 6 million, which would be a 15 year high. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist indicated consumers on strong financial footing were motivated to purchase by fast-rising rents and the anticipated increase in mortgage rates.
The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index  declined in November to 109.5 and follows a 111.6 value for October. The reading is the fourth decline in the past five months and the lowest value since February’s 95.2. As the survey was completed on November 19th it does not reflect any ramifications from the Omicron COVID-19 variant. The Present Situation Index, which is based on consumers’ sentiment of current business conditions and the labor market, dropped to 142.5 from 145.5 in October. This is the lowest level since April. The proportion of consumers planning to purchase homes, automobiles, and major appliances all decreased. The share of consumers that said jobs are currently plentiful increased to 58% up from 54.8%. Consumers that said jobs are currently hard to get was little changed at 11.1% Looking forward into 2022, 24.1% of consumers expect business conditions to improve, up from 22.7%, while 20.7% expect business conditions to worsen, down from 21.9%. On the labor side, 22.1% expect more jobs to be available and 18.9% anticipate that there will be less.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported  a weaker than expected 210,000 jobs were added in November and follows an upwardly revised October jobs figure of 546,000 from 531,000. September and October were revised up by a combined 82,000 jobs. The unemployment rate dropped to a post-pandemic low of 4.2%, down 0.4% from October. Impacting the headline number was leisure and hospitality reporting an anemic (+23K) additional job, down significantly from the (+170K) in October. Gains were reported in professional and business services (+90K), transportation and warehousing (+50K), construction, and manufacturing (+31K). Retail declined (-20K), as well as motor vehicle and parts (-10K). Average hourly earnings increased by 0.3% to $31.03 in November, year over year average hourly earnings have increased 4.8%. The number of unemployed fell by 542,000 to 6.9M, down from 23.1M in April 2020, but still well above February 2020’s 5.8M. The labor force participation rate or the proportion of working-age Americans who have a job or are looking for one edged up to 61.8%, still short of the pre-pandemic level of 63.3%.
Upcoming Economic Reports:
Wednesday December 8 – JOLTs Job Openings (October)
Friday December 10 – Core CPI (MoM) (November)