Crude oil prices surged to a 7-year high due to strong global demand and tight supply. Tensions in the Middle East and Russia added to the concerns.

The housing market and larger economy are expected to enter a "new normal" in 2022 as the unprecedented market disturbances subside.

Last week's initial jobless claims totaled 286,000, well above the 225,000 estimate. Continuing claims also rose to 1.64 million.


Builders in the single-family housing market are facing growing expenses, which is causing a turnaround in sentiment to start the year.

Housing starts increased to a 9-month high in December amid a surge in multi-family housing projects, despite soaring materials prices.

Existing home sales tumbled in December as higher prices and record low inventory continued to shut out some first-time buyers.


Multiple Fed members have come out supporting policy rate increases to curb inflation, beginning as early as March.

Although the Fed doesn't set mortgage rates, expectations of upcoming Fed policy rate hikes pushed mortgage rates higher this week.

Both consumer and wholesale inflation continue to be a problem. Consumer inflation rose 7% in December, its biggest gain since 1982.



Purchase mortgage applications rose 2% last week compared with the previous week, as higher mortgage rates have homebuyers nervous.

Refinance apps were 50% lower year-over-year and the lowest level in 3 months, but they were down only 0.1% from the prior week.

Despite rising rates, the housing market is expected to remain competitive this year. Sales are expected to grow 6.6% to a 16-year high.

In last month's meeting minutes, the Fed said a strengthening economy and higher inflation could lead to earlier and faster policy rate increases.

A record 4.5 million workers quit their jobs in November as workers looked for better jobs and wages. Job openings declined to 10.6 million.

Private job growth totaled 807K in December according to ADP, surpassing the Dow Jones estimate of 375K and November’s 505K gain.

Mortgage rates crept up this week, hitting a 9-month high. However, rates are still very low when compared historically.

Total mortgage applications fell by 2.7% on a seasonally adjusted basis during the holiday week. Purchase apps were down 4%, while refi apps dropped 2%.

The FHFA announced upfront fee increases for second-home and high-balance loans beginning on April 1.


Initial jobless claims totaled 198K for the week ending December 25. That was below the 205K forecast and near the lowest level since 1969.

A recent analysis shows low- and middle-income households spent an average of $3,500 more in 2021 for the same products bought in 2020 or 2019.

U.S. manufacturing, which accounts for 12% of the national economy, grew to a 3-year high in November.


Sales of previously owned homes rose 1.9% in November. The increase was likely due to a strengthening job market and concerns over rising rates.

Home prices surged again in October, up 18.4%. The housing market continues to boom in the wake of last year’s coronavirus recession.

Mortgage refi apps were up 2% last week, though they were 42% lower than last year. Purchase apps fell 3% for the week.



The Fed kept policy rates unchanged at this week's meeting and announced a faster reduction of its bond buying program, to finish in March.

The Fed is expected to fight inflation by beginning to raise policy rates after concluding the bond buying program early next year.

Wholesale prices rose 9.6% from a year ago, the highest level since November 2010. The pace was faster than the 9.3% estimate.


Strong demand buoyed homebuilder confidence, which ended the year healthy despite rising costs and labor shortages.

November housing starts rose more than expected to an 8-month high. Builders are making headway on backlogs even with challenges.

Homeowners are sitting on a record amount of home equity due to soaring demand and skyrocketing prices over the last year and a half.


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