Market Update as of January 24, 2019

December Existing Home Sales Crash
U.S. home sales tumbled to their lowest level in three years in December and house price increases slowed sharply, suggesting a further loss of momentum in the housing market. The National Association of Realtors said on Tuesday existing home sales declined 6.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.99 million units last month. That was the lowest level since November 2015.November’s sales pace was revised slightly up to 5.33 million unit from the previously reported 5.32 million units. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast existing home sales falling 1.0 percent to a rate of 5.25 million units in December. Existing home sales, which make up about 90 percent of U.S. home sales, plunged 10.3 percent from a year ago. For all of 2018, sales fell 3.1 percent to 5.34 million units, the weakest since 2015.

Europe + China Growth Hurting
While global growth in 2018 remained close to post crisis highs, the global expansion is weakening and at a rate that is somewhat faster than expected. This update of the World Economic Outlook (WEO) projects global growth at 3.5 percent in 2019 and 3.6 percent in 2020, 0.2 and 0.1 percentage point below last October’s projections. The downward revisions are modest; however, we believe the risks to more significant downward corrections are rising. While financial markets in advanced economies appeared to be decoupled from trade tensions for much of 2018, the two have become intertwined more recently, tightening financial conditions and escalating the risks to global growth. We have revised downwards our forecasts for advanced economies slightly, mainly due to downward revisions for the euro area.

UBS Bank Is In Trouble 
UBS Group AG warned that the worst may not be over after clients pulled $13 billion in assets during a market meltdown in the final months of 2018. Increased volatility, rising protectionism and geopolitical tensions are still weighing on investors, which will hit wealth and asset management revenue in the first quarter, the Zurich-based bank said Tuesday. Withdrawals at the key global wealth management unit totaled almost $8 billion in the fourth quarter, with clients removing another $5 billion from asset management. UBS fell as much as 5 percent in early Zurich trading, leading European bank stocks lower, as the results underscored the bank’s struggles to reap greater profits from a merger of its two wealth management businesses and improve investment banking results after the departure of its top dealmaker. UBS is the latest bank to suffer from the wild market swings that kept many clients on the sidelines in the final stretch of the year, after Societe Generale warned fourth-quarter trading revenue probably dropped about 20 percent.

 Welcome to 2019…Risk Is On
Get ready for chapter three in a shifting global growth story. In the first chapter, 2017, the world’s leading economies accelerated in sync and stock prices rallied in unison, spurred on by low global interest rates and by hopes for a business-friendly agenda in Washington that included tax cuts and deregulation. In the second chapter, 2018, the U.S. economy charged ahead, thanks in part to delivery of that fiscal stimulus, while the rest of the world slowed as global trade frictions mounted. World stock markets— including the U.S.—stumbled. In chapter three, 2019, the world is in sync again. This time, though, it’s slowing together, not speeding up.

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Courtesy of Sotheby's International Realty's in-house Lender Simon Atik, 310.880.8414,, Vice President of Mortgage Lending, Guaranteed Rate Affinity.

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