More Housing Indexes Point Upward

U.S. house price appreciation continued in May, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, rising 0.7 percent from the previous month, as measured by the agency’s monthly House Price Index.

U.S. house price appreciation continued in May, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency on Tuesday, rising 0.7 percent from the previous month, as measured by the agency’s monthly House Price Index. The May index change marks the 16th monthly price increase in a row for the purchase-only index. The previously reported 0.7 percent increase in April was revised downward to a 0.5 percent increase.

Compared to May 2012, house prices were up 7.3 percent in May 2013, according to the FHFA. The U.S. index is 11.2 percent below its April 2007 peak and is roughly the same as the January 2005 index level. The index is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages either sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Separately, Zillow said on Tuesday that its Home Value Index rose 5.8 percent from June 2012, and monthly appreciation was strong, too, with national home values growing by 0.9 percent from May. Not only did the national pace of appreciation quicken in the second quarter, the company reported, but markets in some areas of the Northeast, Midwest and Southeast, such as Atlanta, Chicago and St. Louis—which had previously been slow to turn the corner—helped boost the overall national market.

A little more truck hauling in June

The American Trucking Associations’ For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index, which is an indirect measurement of economic activity nationwide, edged 0.1 percent higher in June after surging 2.1 percent in May, according to the organization on Tuesday. In June, the index came in at 125.9 (2000 = 100) compared with 125.8 in May. Still, June 2013 is the highest level on record.

Compared with June 2012, the index surged 5.9 percent, which is robust, although below May’s 6.5 percent year-over-year gain, the ATA said. Year-to-date in 2013, compared with the same period in 2012, the tonnage index is up 4.7 percent.

“The fact that tonnage didn’t fall back after the 2.1 percent surge in May is quite remarkable,” ATA chief economist Bob Costello noted in a press statement. “While housing starts were down in June, tonnage was buoyed by other areas like auto production, which was very strong in June, and durable-goods output, which increased 0.5 percent during the month.”

Coincident indexes up in most states

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia released the coincident indexes for the 50 states for June 2013 on Tuesday, finding that during the month, the indexes increased in 29 states, decreased in seven states, and remained stable in 14. Over the past three months, the indexes increased in 42 states, decreased in six, and remained stable in two.

The indexes are formulated from state employment data, combining four state-level indicators to summarize current economic conditions in a single statistic. The four state-level variables are nonfarm payroll employment, average hours worked in manufacturing, the unemployment rate, and wage and salary disbursements deflated by the consumer price index.

Wall Street ended Tuesday mixed, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 22.19 points, or 0.14 percent. The S&P 500 was off 0.19 percent and the Nasdaq lost 0.59 percent.