Consumer confidence made its first improvement in half a year in November. The Conference Board's index went from 79.6 in October to 84.1 the following month. Optimism for the next six months, not current conditions, accounted for the increase.
Existing home sales
In October, sales of existing homes rose to their highest level since April. Low mortgage interest rates drove sales to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.77 million units. This sales rate suggests that home buyers are looking to purchase before interest rates rise from 40-year lows.
Leading economic indicators
After a four-month freefall, The Conference Board's Index of Economic Indicators stabilized in October. Six of the 10 components included in the index rose, with the biggest increases occurring in money supply and unemployment insurance claims. Continued improvement in the index is expected, because two of its previously negative elements turned positive in the latest data.
Second mortgage interest rates
Second mortgage interest rates set another record low in November, dropping to 5.07%. The previous record low was 5.11% in September. Continued low rates make financing for remodeling projects more attractive than ever.
Construction industry unemployment
A downturn in the office and industrial building construction market contributed to increased unemployment in the construction industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for construction workers this October is nearly 10%, up significantly from 8.3% a year ago.