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US: Consumer confidence and housing data

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US CB consumer confidence rose to 115.8 in December from 109.5 in November. This was the best reading since July, before the peak of the confidence-shattering delta wave in 3Q21. The issue of the new variant does not seem to have had an impact on the current data. Confidence may drop from current levels in January as Omicron gains a firmer foothold in the US. The consumer expectations index rose to 96.9 from a reading of 90.2 in November. The 1-year consumer inflation rate expectation decreased slightly from 7.3% in November to 6.9%. During the next six months, the percentage of consumers planning to buy houses, cars, white goods and vacations has increased.

 

Despite ongoing price increases and reports of the Omicron variant, we are seeing a partial decline in inflation expectations. It shows that the consumer expects a more moderate course in inflation in the next 1 year, but supply shortages and concerns about Covid-19 will continue to keep the price momentum high. Continuing conditions and the impact of variants in the pandemic may cause a slowdown in spending trends. At the point of tightening in financial conditions, an acceleration in private consumption items such as houses, automobiles and white goods can be expected before the increase in interest rates, and then a slowdown due to interest rate increases.

 

Housing demand, on the other hand, continues to be extremely strong. Existing home sales rose 1.9% in November to reach 6.46 million units, posting the third consecutive monthly gain and the strongest increase since January. Mortgage rates are expected to rise in 2022 as the Fed will raise interest rates. At the end of November, total housing inventory reached 1.11 million units, down 9.8% from October and down 13.3% (1.28 million) from a year ago. Unsold inventory is at 2.1 month supply at current sales pace, down from both the previous month and a year ago. Supply chain disruptions and labor shortages are the main factors behind the weak housing stock growth. The median current house price for all housing types in November was $353,900, up 13.9% ($310,800) from November 2020, with prices increasing in each region and the highest rate of appreciation in the Southern region. This marks a year-over-year increase for 117 months, the longest-running streak on record. The factors that determine the inflation rate naturally also affect the housing prices.

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