Economic update for the week ending January 19  2019

Crude Oil  $53.76   -   Gold  $1,281.30    -    Silver  $15.36    -     EUR/USD  $1.14

Stocks higher for the fourth consecutive week -  Stock markets gained about 3% this week. It marked the longest string of weekly gains since August 2018. Companies that reported fourth quarter earnings came in better than expected. China also made comments signaling that they would work to take steps to lower its trade imbalance with The U.S., which encouraged investors that a trade deal was getting closer. Stocks have now made up almost 1/2 of their losses since hitting an all-time highs in September 2018. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the week at 24,706.35, up 3.0% from 23,995.95 last week. It’s up 5.9% in January. The S&P 500 closed the week at 2,670.71, up 2.9% from 2,596.48 last week. It is up 6.5% in January. The NASDAQ closed the week at 7,157.23, up 2.7% from 6,971.48 last week. The NASDAQ is up 7.9% this month.


Treasury Bond Yields up slightly this week -  The 10 year Treasury bond closed the week yielding 2.79%, up from 2.71%  last week. The 30 year Treasury bond yield ended the week at 3.09%, up from 3.04% last week. We watch Treasury bond yields because mortgage rates follow bond yields.


Mortgage rates stable this week at the lowest levels in 9 months -  The January 17, 2019 Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported that the 30 year fixed mortgage rate average was 4.45%, unchanged from 4.55% last week. The 15 year fixed was 3.88%, unchanged from 3.89% last week. The 5 year ARM was 3.87%, up slightly from 3.83% last week.


December California existing home sales report -  The California Association of Realtors reported that existing home sales totaled 372,260 in December on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis. That was down 2.4% from November and down 11.6% from last December. It marked the fewest sales in a month since January 2015. The statewide median price was $557,600, up 1.4% from December 2017. On a regional basis Los Angeles County’s median price of $588,140 was up 1.8% from last December. Orange County had a median price of $785,000, down 0.1% from December 2017. Ventura County’s median price of $640,000 was down 0.8% from last December. Inventory levels also continued to rise. The unsold inventory index was a 3.5 month supply of homes listed in California, up from 2.5 months in December 2017. Los Angeles Country had a 3.5 month supply, up from a 2.4 month supply last December. Orange County had a 4 month supply, down from 2.6 months last December. Ventura County had a 5.5 month supply, up from a 4 month supply in December 2017.


How to finish a basement (and How Much It Costs) -  If "how to finish a basement" and "how much will it cost to finish my basement" are questions that have got you hemming and hawing, consider this. Your dark and dingy basement is a gold mine of possibilities. Throw up some walls, and you’ve got an extra bedroom or family gathering space. Add a bathroom or kitchen, and you've created a possible rental that can help cover those finished basement costs or house your in-laws or adult kids. But let's tackle first things first, like how to kick off the process of finishing your basement. What costs you need to take into consideration?