Consumer Sentiment Surged To Its Highest Level Since 2021

Despite a notable annual growth rate of 14.8% in active inventory during February, the housing market continues to grapple with a persistent under-supply, with nearly 40% fewer homes available for sale compared to pre-pandemic levels. According to the National Association of Realtors This Week in Real Estate, pending home sales experienced an increase of 1.6% in February compared to the previous month, although they were down by 7.0% compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, February’s new home sales were flat against the previous month, although there was a meaningful uptick of 5.9% in the annual pace. In terms of economic sentiment, the University of Michigan’s final March Consumer Sentiment Index surged to its highest level since July 2021, propelled by robust gains in the stock-market, exemplified by the S&P 500’s impressive 10.2% first-quarter gain, its best performance in five years. This surge in sentiment is further underpinned by optimistic expectations of easing inflationary pressures. Below are a few newsworthy events from the fourth week of March that influence our business:
PENDING HOME SALES PICK UP IN FEBRUARY. Pending home sales increased modestly in February despite rising mortgage rates, growing 1.6% month over month, according to the newest data released Thursday by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).  NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index increased to 75.6 in February, up from 74.3 in January. On a year-over-year basis, pending sales were down 7%. “While modest sales growth might not stir excitement, it shows slow and steady progress from the lows of late last year,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement. “Ongoing job gains are clearly increasing demand along with more inventory.” Meanwhile, new home sales fell slightly in February but were still 5.9% higher than one year ago. Existing home sales surged 9.5% from January to February. Overall, active inventory grew 14.8% annually in February, according to data from Read the full story here.
NEW HOME SALES HOLD STEADY IN FEBRUARY. Sales of newly built, single-family homes in February edged 0.3% lower to a 662,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate, according to newly released data by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. The pace of new home sales in February is up 5.9% from a year earlier. “While new home sales remained flat in February, our latest home builder surveys show increased levels of confidence driven by the ongoing lean levels of existing home inventory,” said Carl Harris, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Regionally, on a year-to-date basis, new home sales are up 47.0% in the Northeast, 29.7% in the Midwest and 41.0% in the West. New home sales are down 13.4% in the South. Read the full story here.
US CONSUMER SENTIMENT TOPS ESTIMATES IN MARCH TO HIT NEARLY 3-YR HIGH, UMICH SAYS. U.S. consumer sentiment rose unexpectedly in March to the highest in nearly three years thanks in part to growing confidence that inflation will keep softening. The University of Michigan’s benchmark Consumer Sentiment Index rose to a final reading for the month of 79.4, the highest since July 2021, from February’s 76.9. It topped consensus estimates of 76.5 in a Reuters poll of economists, which had been the same as the preliminary March estimate released two weeks ago. Consumer assessments of both current conditions and the economic outlook both improved from the March mid-month and February final readings. Read the full story here.

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