The Data and Analytics division of Black Knight, Inc. released its latest Home Price Index (HPI) report, based on December 2017 residential real estate transactions. The Black Knight HPI utilizes repeat sales data from the nation’s largest public records data set, as well as its market-leading, loan-level mortgage performance data, to produce one of the most complete and accurate measures of home prices available for both disclosure and non-disclosure states. Non-disclosure states do not include property sales price information as part of their publicly available county recorder data. Black Knight is able to obtain the sales price information for these states by combining and matching records across its unique data assets.
– US home prices edged up slightly in December, closing the year 6.6% above end of 2016
– December marked 68 consecutive months of annual home price appreciation
– New York once again led all states in monthly gains, with home prices up 1.71% over last month
– Ohio experienced the most negative movement, with home prices there falling 1.13% from November, and accounting for seven of the nation’s 10 worst-performing metros of the month
– Home prices fell in nine of the nation’s 20 largest states, while six others hit new peaks
– Likewise, while 11 of the 40 largest metros hit new home price peaks in December, prices fell in another 20
Oil steady after hitting 3-week high, Saudi offers support
Oil slipped on Monday but still held close to its highest since early February, supported by comments from Saudi Arabia that it would continue to curb shipments in line with the OPEC-led effort to cut global supplies. Brent crude was down 17 cents at $67.14 a barrel at 1258 GMT, after rising almost 4% last week. US West Texas Intermediate crude was down 3 cents at $63.52 a barrel after rising 3% last week. Both contracts earlier rose to their highest since Feb. 7. A cold snap across Europe has encouraged some refiners to delay maintenance, which could support demand and help end a mild bout of profit-taking, analysts said. “There is a bit of a bearish twinge to everything … but we believe in the second half (of the year), you’ll see demand pull the market back up again,” Natixis oil analyst Joel Hancock said. “Our view is demand will be strong enough, but we don’t see a big breakout,” he said, adding the expected a price in the range of $60 to $70 this year. Prices drew some support from Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih, who on Saturday said the country’s crude production in January-March would be well below output caps, with exports averaging less than 7 million barrels per day. US energy firms added one oil rig last week, the fifth weekly increase in a row, bringing the total count up to 799, the highest since April 2015, Baker Hughes energy services firm said on Friday. Meanwhile, Libya’s National Oil Corp said on Saturday it had declared force majeure on the 70,000 bpd El Feel oilfield after a protest by guards closed the field.
MBA president slams “defamatory” mortgage industry report
The Mortgage Bankers Association is speaking up against a report from The Center for Investigative Reporting which claims to show a high level of discrimination against people of color in mortgage lending approvals. In a blog, David Stevens, MBA’s president and CEO, responded by sharply criticizing the report, writing: “Make no mistake, discrimination is unacceptable in any way, at any time. Period. End of Story. And yes, members of minority communities are being denied mortgage loans at a greater rate than white borrowers. But it is flat-out incorrect, defamatory and disgraceful to accuse the mortgage lending industry of denying loans to borrowers simply based on the color of their skin. What this group is doing – not just relying on a study that fails to consider many of the key data-based variables that lenders rely on to make an individual loan decision, but also cherry-picking among loan types – is actually counterproductive to the important discussion we are having regarding access to credit challenges in our nation’s communities.” CIR said in its reporting that it used 2016 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data for its report, but Stevens countered by saying it doesn’t tell the entire story, explaining that the organization only looked at conventional loans, which don’t paint a clear picture of who is borrowing. “There is no rational reason for failing to include FHA loans. They are widely available, allow smaller down payments, and in some ways are more flexible with respect to credit history than conventional programs,” Stevens wrote in the blog.
GE reshapes board after retroactively cutting profits
Days after saying that it would retroactively cut the profits reported over the past two years, General Electric Co. is reshaping its board of directors. One person joining the board chaired the organization that sets accounting standards in the United States.GE said Friday that it must cut its 2016 per-share earnings by 13 cents, and by 16 cents for 2017. It’s adopting new accounting standards for 2018. The Securities and Exchange Commission investigating the Boston company over long-term service contracts and federal regulators are reviewing a $15 billion miscalculation that GE made within an insurance unit. GE disclosed last month that it would take a $6.2 billion charge in its fourth quarter after a subsidiary, North American Life & Health, underestimated how much it would cost to pay for the care of people who lived longer than projected. After cutting the size of its board from 18 to 12 members, GE said Monday that a quarter of that board would consist of new members, including Leslie Seidman, former chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board. Also named were former Danaher Corp. CEO Lawrence Culp and one-time American Airlines CEO Thomas Horton. CEO John Flannery, a longtime insider at GE, was tasked last year with reshaping the company, but the proposed changes at GE have grown more radical over the past several months as negative developments emerge. The company has shrunk dramatically since it became entangled in the financial crisis a decade ago and Flannery has vowed to shed $20 billion in assets quickly.