>> Market Update
QUOTE OF THE WEEK... "Normalcy is not interesting." --Lindsay Lohan, American actress, model, producer, and recording artist
INFO THAT HITS US WHERE WE LIVE... If the troubled performer were earning her living in real estate, she might think differently about normalcy. For a few years now, the housing market has been anything but normal, so any return to stability is interesting indeed. With a major real estate information provider reporting home price gains moderating in June, their chief economist observed, "This reversion to normality that we are finally experiencing is expected to continue across the country and should further alleviate concern over diminishing affordability and the risk of another asset bubble."
Recovery continues nonetheless, as June's more modest price gains still represented 28 months of consecutive year-over year increases in home prices nationally. More evidence of the return to a normal housing market came when a national online real estate site reported that their listings blasted ahead 8.65% from May to June. Their chief economist feels "All the data points support favorable sales over the next couple of months." He pointed out that talk anticipating mortgage rates will rise next year make now a relatively appealing time to buy, while an improving economy puts more money in buyers' hands.
BUSINESS TIP OF THE WEEK... Be inspired by the famous saying of the Navy SEALs: "The only easy day was yesterday." Push yourself to excel every day and you'll be equipped to achieve any goal you set.
>> Review of Last Week
FEELING BETTER... It was a week that featured all manner of global concerns, from a Portuguese bank bailout, to Italy's second straight quarter of economic contraction (technically a recession), to ongoing troubles in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. But Friday, Russia ended its military exercises on the Ukraine border, saying it wished to de-escalate tensions. This was enough to restore investors' appetite for risk, pushing the Dow to its biggest one-day percentage jump in more than 4 months. That left the blue chip index up for the week, while the improved investor feelings spread over to the broadly based S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq, which both also ended ahead for the week.
There was, in addition, enough decent economic data to put Wall Street in a better mood. The ISM Services index boomed to its highest reading since December 2005, showing growth in the sector that provides more than 80% of our jobs. Even the trade deficit was less than expected in June, although this was due to a large drop in imports, as exports increased only slightly. However, Productivity grew nicely in Q2 following its big drop in Q1 and Unit Labor Costs edged up only slightly, good news for inflation watchers. Best of all, weekly Initial Unemployment Claims dropped to 289,000, pulling the four week moving average down to 293,500, its lowest read since February 2006!
The week ended with the Dow up 0.4%, to 16554; the S&P 500 up 0.3%, at 1932; and the Nasdaq up 0.4%, to 4371.
There were still enough worrisome global economic and political issues to spark a safety bid that pushed up bond prices. The 30YR FNMA 4.0% bond we watch finished the week up .08, at $105.23. In Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the week ended August 7, national average fixed mortgage rates edged slightly higher but remain near their yearly lows. Remember, mortgage rates can be extremely volatile, so check with your mortgage professional for up to the minute information.
DID YOU KNOW?... The Census Bureau estimates that the typical American moves a dozen times in his or her lifetime.
>> This Week’s Forecast
RETAIL GAINS, WHOLESALE INFLATION OK, MANUFACTURING GROWS... Wednesday, all eyes will focus on Retail Sales, expected to show the consumer still helping the economy grow in July. The Producer Price Index (PPI) and Core PPI, excluding volatile food and energy, should report inflation still under control with regard to the prices businesses pay for things. Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization are forecast to tick up, showing manufacturing growing overall, as well as in the New York region measured by the Empire Manufacturing Index.
>> The Week’s Economic Indicator Calendar
Weaker than expected economic data tends to send bond prices up and interest rates down, while positive data points to lower bond prices and rising loan rates.
Economic Calendar for the Week of Aug 11 – Aug 15
Date Time (ET) Release For Consensus Prior Impact
Aug 12 14:00 Federal Budget Jul –$96.0B –$97.6B Moderate
Aug 13 08:30 Retail Sales Jul 0.3% 0.2% HIGH
Aug 13 10:00 Business Inventories Jun 0.4% 0.5% Moderate
Aug 13 10:30 Crude Inventories 8/9 NA –1.756M Moderate
Aug 14 08:30 Initial Unemployment Claims 8/9 305K 289K Moderate
Aug 14 08:30 Continuing Unemployment Claims 8/2 2.523M 2.518M Moderate
Aug 15 08:30 Producer Price Index (PPI) Jul 0.2% 0.4% Moderate
Aug 15 08:30 Core PPI Jul 0.2% 0.2% Moderate
Aug 15 08:30 NY Empire Manufacturing Index Aug 15.5 25.6 Moderate
Aug 15 09:15 Industrial Production Jul 0.3% 0.2% Moderate
Aug 15 09:15 Capacity Utilization Jul 79.2% 79.1% Moderate
Aug 15 09:55 U. of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Aug 81.7 81.8 Moderate
>> Federal Reserve Watch
Forecasting Federal Reserve policy changes in coming months... Even with a few more positive signs of economic recovery, most economists believe Fed Chair Janet Yellin will keep the Funds Rate where it is, well into next year. Note: In the lower chart, a 1% probability of change is a 99% certainty the rate will stay the same.
Current Fed Funds Rate: 0%–0.25%
After FOMC meeting on: Consensus
Sep 17 0%–0.25%
Oct 29 0%–0.25%
Dec 17 0%–0.25%
Probability of change from current policy:
After FOMC meeting on: Consensus
Sep 17 <1%
Oct 29 <1%
Dec 17 <1%