Daily Market Commentary for February 27, 2012
National Association of Realtors reported Monday that pending home sales - contracts but not closings - climbed 2% in January to the highest level since April 2010 with the pending-home-sales index rising to 97.0 from a downwardly revised 95.1 reading in December.
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On Sunday, the Group of 20 said that the euro zone will consider increasing the size of the region's bailout fund next month, according to reports following a meeting of the group in Mexico. Members of the Group of 20 would consider increasing the resources available to the International Monetary Fund if the euro zone gives approval for the increase. Those resources could take the form of bilateral loans and note purchase deals.
Over the weekend, the G-20 said it will support adding more funds to the International Monetary Fund if the euro zone also contributes more money. “Europe must demonstrate its own efforts for the entire world to see,” said Japan’s finance minister Jun Azumi, while U.K. chancellor George Osborne stressed that “until we see the color of their money, I don’t think you are going to see any money from the rest of the world.” Late this afternoon, Germany is voting to approve a second austerity package for Greece.
National Association for Business Economics reported, according to the latest survey economists expect the U.S. recovery to pick up a little more speed during the latter half of 2012. The outlook of the NABE panel of 45 forecasters projects growth in U.S. gross domestic product at 2.4%, skewed slightly toward the second half. A summary of the February survey from NABE shows expectations for an average unemployment rate of 8.3%, as the economy adds some 170,000 jobs a month for 2012. With housing starts pegged to rise 19% from 2011 to 700,000 units and with real residential investment improving to a 6.6% increase for 2012 and to 10% growth for 2013, the group is forecasting a housing recovery. The NABE survey respondents continue to believe that spending growth by businesses will be strong but that consumer spending will remain subdued.
On Monday, TransCanada Corp. said the company will spend nearly $2.3 billion to build a portion of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to bring oil from the storage facilities of Cushing, Oklahoma out to the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Formerly part of the Keystone project, the new Cushing pipeline, "will be constructed as a stand-alone Gulf Coast project" with a targeted completion date in 2013. TransCanada said it's reapplying for permission to build the Keystone XL pipeline between the U.S. and Canada, as it continues to work with Nebraska officials to reroute the pipeline around an environmentally-sensitive region. President Barack Obama 'welcomes' TransCanada's decision to build a pipeline to bring crude oil from Cushing, Oklahoma, to the Gulf of Mexico. "As the President made clear in January, we support the company's interest in proceeding with this project, which will help address the bottleneck of oil in Cushing that has resulted in large part from increased domestic oil production, currently at an eight year high. Moving oil from the Midwest to the world-class, state-of-the-art refineries on the Gulf Coast will modernize our infrastructure, create jobs, and encourage American energy production," the White House said in a statement. Additionally, TransCanada intends to submit a new application for a pipeline from Nebraska to Canada once a new Nebraska route has been identified. "We will ensure any project receives the important assessment it deserves, and will base a decision to provide a permit on the completion of that review," the White House said.
Money supply data for January show that the European Central Bank's generous liquidity policy is working, at least in the short term which means it is even less likely that the ECB will lower borrowing costs further when it meets March 8. The annual growth in M3 accelerated to 2.5% in January following a 0.1 percentage point downwardly revised 1.5% increase in December. The three-month moving average for November-January grew 2.0% on the year, matching the previous period, which had been first estimated at +2.1%. ECB data showed M3 grew 0.7% in January, or EUR68.4 billion, making a U-turn after three straight months of decline, in monthly terms. Consistent with price-stability mandate of an inflation rate of just below 2% over the medium term, the three-month moving average remains well below the ECB's 'reference value' of 4.5%. Data from the European Central Bank showed Monday that Euro-zone bank lending to the private sector in January rose at a slightly faster pace in annual terms than the previous month. Per ECB data, private sector lending increased 1.1% in January, compared with the year-earlier period, after rising 1.0% in December. In January, loans to households grew EUR8 billion after falling EUR7 billion in December. While credit for consumption grew EUR2 billion according to seasonally-adjusted data from the ECB, lending for house purchases grew slightly by EUR4 billion in January. The main refinancing rate of the ECB currently stands at 1%, following 0.25 percentage point cuts in November and December. In Mexico City over the weekend, ECB President Mario Draghi acknowledged that boosting lending to the economy remains a challenge in the euro zone. Draghi said that credit conditions are still tightening despite the central bank's first three-year loan. "We see for the time being" the broad money category of M3 "still declining," he said. "We see credit tightening, we don't see credit booming, and this is true for all of the euro area." The ECB is hoping to give the economy a further shot in the arm Wednesday when it allocates its second, and likely final, three-year loan.
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