An Unexpected Positive in Housing

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There was a rare green shoot in housing today.

Mortgage applications for buying a home rose 7 percent last week (seasonally adjusted), according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. It was the biggest gain since an increase of 10 percent in mid-April.

Another report said listings of houses for sale are starting to increase. While the data is anecdotal so far, it may provide some indication of life in the market.

Most readers probably know there’s been a shortage of inventory despite strong demand. That’s depressed sales and made young buyers fall behind earlier generations in terms of homeownership.

Even though today’s news is very preliminary, there have been other signs of a gradual improvement in the housing market. In May, for instance, new-home sales rose 6.5 percent — more than quadruple the estimate. Housing starts in the month also hit a 12-year high.

Prospective buyers might find it easier to borrow as well because interest rates are edging lower. Mortgage terms also continue to get more accommodative, according to MBA.

Homebuilding stocks have drifted all year following a sharp drop in January. Going forward, traders may want to watch the upcoming events listed below for signs of a turn. (This isn’t a recommendation. We simply want to put this group back on people’s radar.)

  • July 17: NAHB’s homebuilder sentiment index
  • July 18: Housing starts & building permits
  • July 23: Existing home sales
  • July 26: Earnings from builders D.R. Horton (DHI) & PulteGroup (PHM)
iShares Home Construction ETF (ITB) with potential support line and 50-day moving average.
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David Russell is VP of Content Strategy at TradeStation. Drawing on nearly two decades of experience as a financial journalist and analyst, his background includes equities, emerging markets, fixed-income and derivatives. He previously worked at Bloomberg News, CNBC and E*TRADE Financial. Russell systematically reviews countless global financial headlines and indicators in search of broad tradable trends that present opportunities repeatedly over time. Customers can expect him to keep them appraised of sector leadership, relative strength and the big stories – especially those overlooked by other commentators. He’s also a big fan of generating leverage with options to limit capital at risk.