It fits that the S&P [now CoreLogic]/Case-Shiller House Price Index for February comes during the same week in the data cycle as the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Employment Situation report for March. Case-Shiller is sizzle; the jobs report is steak. Case-Shiller is a catalyst; the benchmark on employment progress is a cause. Case-Shiller is noise; and Friday's Employment Report is the signal. Case-Shiller's 10- and 20-market index of existing home resales during the three-month trailing period is a proxy for national residential real estate performance; the jobs data is local, both by industry segment and geography.
You can see the point here. The significance of the two data prints coming as they do on the threshold of Spring, as various measures of economic activity buckle and creak under the weight of uncertainty, regulatory ambivalence, and end-user customer unpredictability, is psychically profound. We've seen in Springs past more than flickers of hope and resilience only to sink back into a powerful gravitational field that reduced flashes of optimism to pangs of foolishness.
Today's print on S&P/Case-Shiller, as noted in this early report from Bloomberg/ BusinessWeek's Alex Kowalski, beat Wall Street expectations. The headline data actually speaks to the positive forces that have been in play--accelerated absorption of distressed and vacant inventory by investor buyers, and the determined return of selective owner-occupier demand among discretionary purchasers--for a year now.
Here's the initial Calculated Risk take on this morning's S&P/Case-Shiller reading, which dissects the 10- and 20 market data and puts it into seasonally-adjusted and not-seasonally-adjusted context.
So, we get to experience the tail-wind that a heightened noise-level confers, the gust of a catalyst at work.
But the real cause of improvement comes up for its next important reading on Friday. Jobs are the cause, where house prices rising as two streams of demand--owner occupiers and investors--exceed one stream of supply--people who list their homes for sale by choice, are the catalysts.