Three data releases at 10:00 failed to sing in tune with each other. A key indicator of output showed some improvement but is still contracting overall, and while contracts for home purchases are on the rise, spending on the construction of new homes it at historic lows.
In real estate, the Pending Home Sales Index improved for the third straight month in April, jumping 6.7% in the month. Since last year, the index has now improved 3.2%.
“Housing affordability conditions have been at historic highs, but now the $8,000 first-time buyer tax credit is beginning to impact the market,” said NAR’s chief economist Lawrence Yun. “Since first-time buyers must finalize their purchase by November 30 to get the credit, we expect greater activity in the months ahead, and that should spark more sales by repeat buyers.”
Regionally, results were volatile. The Northeast saw contracts soar 32.6%, the Midwest reported a 9.8% advance, the West saw a 1.8% gain, while the South slipped 0.2%.
“The market has already bottomed in some areas, but this is an unusual housing cycle with some areas improving rapidly while others languish or decline,” Yun said.
Released at the same time was the ISM Manufacturing index, a key sentiment-based survey based on the opinions of business executives. It failed to grow in June but conditions did improve in line with expectations. The index moved up 2 points to 44.8, a little more than 5 points below the level indicating growth.
Seven of the 18 industries surveyed reported growth in the month, helped by a 6.5-point improvement in the Production component, which broke into growth mode at 52.5. Employment saw a similar 6.4-point rebound, yet it remains far from expansion at just 40.7.
On the negative side, New Orders dropped 1.9 points, pushing it back into contraction. Inventories also moved downwards, but all other components improved from May.
“Overall, a slow recovery for manufacturing is forming based on the current trends in the ISM data," said Norbert J. Ore, chairman of the ISM’s Business Survey Committee.
John Herrmann from Herrmann Forecasting said the report was indicative of growth in the coming months.
“This June ISM report, along with our forecast for a further rebound in August - December, shows that the US recession should end in 3Q-2009, and that US real GDP growth is 4Q-2009 is likely +3.22%,” he said.
The bad news from 10:00 was Construction Spending, which lost 0.9% in May, pushing the value to its lowest level in more than half a decade. Analysts were expecting a drop of 0.5%.
In addition, the 0.8% gain in April was revised down to 0.6%.
Details were pretty weak: residential construction fell -3.4%, as single-family homes declined 4.5% and multi-family homes plummeted 9.6%. On the plus side, private nonresidential construction inched up 0.5%.
“The construction spending figures should ultimately be lifted by stimulus-related spending on infrastructure projects as well as the bottoming of the housing market,” said Deutsche Bank’s Joseph LaVorgna. “We expect this to become more apparent later in the second half of the year.”