WASHINGTON, April 15, 2016 -- Economic growth stalled during the first quarter of 2016 but the full-year outlook remains little changed at 1.9 percent, according to Fannie Mae's (OTC Bulletin Board: FNMA) Economic & Strategic Research (ESR) Group's April 2016 Economic and Housing Outlook. Consumer and business spending and net exports came in below expectations, and trade, inventory, and business investment likely weighed heavily on GDP in the first quarter. However, the ESR Group does not view weakness in the first quarter as the start of deteriorating economic activity and expects slightly better growth in the second quarter buoyed by a pick-up in consumer spending that should continue over the rest of the year.
"We expect a healthy labor market, the solid hiring trend seen during the last few months, and stronger household incomes to boost consumer spending over the rest of the year despite weak economic activity in the first quarter," said Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan. "The fourth consecutive increase in the labor force participation rate amid solid job growth has slowed the decline in the unemployment rate, and, combined with anemic productivity growth, may help explain the failure of wages to accelerate more rapidly. With the uptrend in the labor force participation rate and subdued wage pressure, the Fed appears to feel less urgency for a second fed funds rate hike, particularly given that risks to global economic and financial developments are tilted to the downside. We now expect only one rate hike in 2016 in the second half of the year."
"Our forecasts for housing activity, mortgage rates, and mortgage originations are little changed in the April forecast. We expect total mortgage originations to decline about 9.0 percent in 2016 to $1.56 trillion, with a refinance share of 40 percent," said Duncan. "Sustained improvement in the labor market and personal incomes among young adults should draw more potential home buyers into the housing market, but many will continue to face affordability challenges. Home price growth has been rising at a faster clip than incomes, and the increasing supply of single-family housing is skewed toward larger and less affordable homes. These factors continue to weigh on housing affordability, particularly for first-time home buyers."