Daily Market Commentary for October 20, 2011
Conference Board reported leading indicators for the U.S. economy rose for the fifth consecutive month, during September, but slower growth pointed to soft conditions “through the end of 2011”. (read more at Millennium-Traders.Com)
During the month of September, sales of existing homes fell 3%, reflecting the continuous signs of difficult times in the housing market as well as newly imposed tougher lending limits for home loans. National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported existing home sales fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.91 million which was nearly in line with the 4.9 million consensus. August sales of existing homes was revised higher to 5.06 million from initially reported 5.03 million. Data compared to September 2010 which was a time when the expiration of the home-buyer tax credit was still impacting the market, existing home sales grew 11.3%. “It’s in a holding pattern. When it does break out, it will break out upward, but it hasn‘t broken out yet,“ said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the NAR. Tougher conforming jumbo loan limit rules went into effect in October, and a separate NAR survey of nearly 1,300 agents in areas that experienced lower loan limits showed that 16% of buyers dropped out of the home buying process. “People going from a 3.5% down payment to 20%, those are sizeable,” Yun said. Yun said that may have played out in the West in particular, where existing home sales dropped 8.8%. The median-price of homes dropped 3.5% from 2010 levels to $165,400. Rentals have been reported as increasing by at least 64% of agents and a separate report from the Labor Department showed that rent of primary residences is up 2.1% on a year-on-year basis. Distressed homes for sale accounted for 30% of the existing-home market during September compared to 31% in August, with foreclosures accounting for 18% of the market. All-cash sales remained at 30% which suggest tight lending standards as well as interest from investors and bargain hunters. First-time buyers accounted for 32% of existing home sales during August, well below healthy existing home sales levels of nearly 40%. Existing homes for sale inventories declined 2% to 3.48 million units, representing 8.5 months of supply at current sales rates. International transactions accounted for 3% of the existing home sales market. A bill has been introduced in the Senate today by Utah Republican Mike Lee and New York Democrat Charles Schumer, which would give visas to foreigners that spend at least $500,000 to buy homes in the U.S. The bill would grant a three-year residence visa but wouldn't authorize the resident to work in the United States.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported manufacturing in the Philadelphia region showed signs of recovery in October. The Philly Fed diffusion index rose to 8.7 during October from negative 17.5 during September striking the first positive reading in three months. The Philly Fed index is a diffusion index taken by subtracting the percentage of respondents who say activity fell from those who say it rose. The new orders index rose to 7.8 from negative 11.3 in September and shipments index rose to 13.6 from negative 22.8. The Labor market indicators remained sluggish with the employment index fell to 1.4 from 5.8. The average workweek improved to 3.1 from negative 13.7. Unfilled orders index rose to 3.4 from a negative 10.4 which indicates fewer backlogged orders. Inflationary pressures eased modestly and prices paid index dropped to 20.0 from 23.2, while the prices received index fell to negative 2.5 from 0.9 in the prior month. The index of future activity rose to 27.2 during the month of October from 21.4 in September.
U.S. State Department reported that former Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi has been killed. Col. Moammar Gadhafi's death is a vital step forward for Libya, the country he ruled for 42 years. His death will help the transitional government press on with political reforms, will encourage foreign governments to unfreeze more of Libya's cash held abroad and improved security should help in the ramp-up of oil and gas production. Risks in the country remain high, but Libya's post-conflict recovery is already on a faster track than many predicted. At the order of Gadhafi on December 21, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was destroyed by a bomb - referred to as the Lockerbie bombing - which killed all 243 passengers and 16 crew members.
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