Employment, Seniors Housing Builders, GSEs

The U.S. economy created 214,000 jobs in October. Builder confidence in the seniors housing market was up again in the third quarter. Freddie Mac has “drawn” $71.3 billion from the Treasury.

The U.S. economy created 214,000 jobs in October, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday, which is roughly on par with the average monthly gain for the past 12 months of 222,000 jobs. Employment increased in food services and drinking places, retail trade, and healthcare, the BLS noted.

The change in total employment for August was revised from a gain of 180,000 to one of 203,000, and the change for September was revised from a gain of 248,000 to one of 256,000. With these revisions, employment gains during those months combined were 31,000 more than previously reported.

The official U.S. unemployment rate, which is based on a separate survey, dropped to 5.8 percent, compared with 5.9 percent in September. The last time the headline rate was so low was in July 2008. During the pre-recession mid-2000s, the rate hovered between 4 percent and 5 percent.

Ahead of the monthly jobs report, the U.S. Department of Labor reported on Thursday that for the week ending Nov. 1, initial unemployment claims were 278,000, a decrease of 10,000 from the previous week. The four-week moving average was 279,000, a decrease of 2,250 from the previous week. That’s the lowest level for the four-week average since April 29, 2000, when it was 273,000.

Seniors Housing Builders More Optimistic

Builder confidence in the seniors housing market was up again in the third quarter, according to the latest survey by the National Association of Home Builders, which was released on Thursday. NAHB’s 55+ Housing Market Index tracking single-family homebuilders’ confidence jumped nine points from the third quarter of 2013, to 59, which is the highest Q3 reading since the index was created in 2008. That’s also the 12th consecutive quarter of year-over-year improvements.

All three components of the single-family index posted year-over-year increases. Present sales jumped 13 points to 65; expected sales for the next six months climbed 10 points to 63; and traffic of prospective buyers rose three points to 46.

Meanwhile, the 55+ index for condos posted a four-point gain to 41, which is also the highest Q3 reading since the inception of the index. Again, all components were up year over year: present sales rose five points to 42; expected sales for the next six months climbed three points to 43; and traffic of prospective buyers increased three points to 38.

GSEs Report Profitable Quarters 

Fannie Mae reported on Thursday that its net income for the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2014 was $3.9 billion, while its “comprehensive income” was $4 billion. That means that the GSE, which is under government conservatorship, will make a payment to the U.S. Treasury of $4 billion. That puts total dividend payments at $134.5 billion, compared to the $116.1 billion the company has “drawn” from the Treasury.

Also on Thursday, Freddie Mac reported net income in the same period of $2 billion, while “comprehensive income” was $2.8 billion. Thus, it will make a $2.8 billion payment to the government, bringing its total dividend payments so far to $91 billion. The GSE has “drawn” $71.3 billion from the Treasury.

Wall Street continued reaching for new highs on Thursday, ahead of the jobs numbers, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 69.94 points, or 0.4 percent. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both advanced 0.38 percent.