Continued positive consumer spending and other solid domestic fundamentals are expected to offset recent market volatility and support modest improvement in U.S. economic growth in the second half of the year, according to Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Research (ESR) Group.
Data released throughout the past month generally showed improving economic activity despite heightened anxiety on Wall Street. Real consumer spending ticked up in July and the August jobs report was solid. Full-time employment surpassed its pre-recession peak, and both average hourly earnings and the average workweek saw an increase, indicating a strong gain in personal incomes that should support continued consumer spending. On balance, growth in the second half of the year is expected to come in higher, albeit modestly, than the first half.
“Our forecast for the year is largely unchanged despite recent market volatility. Fundamentals are positive, suggesting potential for some improvement in the fourth quarter,” says Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan. “While core personal consumption expenditures experienced their weakest gain in more than four years in July, real consumer spending rebounded during the month and August auto sales were stronger than they have been in a decade. Consumers may get an added boost during the year from subdued inflation given the stronger dollar and low oil prices. Overall, we anticipate economic growth of 2.4 percent for 2015, up slightly from 2.1 percent in the prior forecast. Consumer and government spending as well as nonresidential and residential investment are expected to contribute to growth while net exports and inventory investment will likely pose headwinds.”
“Continued strong performance of year-to-date home sales and modestly weakening leading indicators confirm that our prior forecast of existing home sales this year remains valid. However, lower actual and projected cash sales led us to revise slightly higher purchase mortgage originations,” says Duncan. “Sub-par single-family new home construction, however, has been somewhat disappointing, and as a result we have lowered our projected single-family starts projection for 2016. We anticipate total mortgage originations to increase approximately 25 percent for all of 2015, and total production volume to decrease somewhere in the area of 18 percent in 2016, with the refinance share falling about 15 percentage points.”
For more information, visit www.fanniemae.com.