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Posts Tagged ‘New Home Sales’

Why Homebuilder Stocks Haven’t Plunged

June 23rd, 2010 Michael McDonough Comments off

The amount of new homes for sale in the U.S. reached a multi-decade low in May helping boost U.S. homebuilders.  To find a point in time where fewer new homes were on the market you would have to go all the way back to the early 70’s/late 60’s (see chart).  While the sales pace of new home doesn’t bode well for the very short-term outlook for home builders the miniscule amount of new homes on the market means that as buyers return—once labor markets improve—home builder demand will likely spike.  The low level of inventories also implies short-term homebuilder risk could be somewhat limited, giving them more room to wait out the ongoing soft patch.  While I am in no way a housing bull; the outlook for homebuilders could be worse, and the group will likely continue to trade range bound until a clearly employment picture develops.  To monitor this I will be watching weekly jobless claims and housing starts over the months ahead. 

 

Source: Bloomberg

The next shoe to fall will be May’s pending home sales, released on July 1st, which measures contract signings for existing home sales during the month.  I expect the decline in pending home sales will likely be at a smaller magnitude than we saw in today’s new home sales release partially due to no shortage in existing homes and much large monthly sales volumes.  Since the onset of the housing crisis buyers have generally preferred existing homes as they provide better value per dollar compared to their new home counterpart; one could compare it to buying a used car vs. new.   

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First Portugal, Then New Home Sales, Next…

March 24th, 2010 Michael McDonough Comments off

What a day, I wake up to the news that Fitch has downgraded Portugal, leading to a strong sell-off in Euro–reaching a ten month low against the dollar. This news was not tremendously surprising, and I expect the situation in Europe will get far worse before getting better, especially if Greece doesn’t find a funding source before its first massive debt payment on April 20th.  Aside from Greece I am also very concerned about several of the other so-called ‘PIIGS’ as well as the UK.  Pending how this situation unfolds if risk is rebalanced across Europe (to Germany), other more ’secure’ European nations could come under the scrutiny of worried investors.

Greek Monthly Debt Payment Schedule:

Source: Bloomberg

The day progresses, its then announced new home sales unexpectedly tumbled -2.2% on a monthly basis in February (compared to a consensus forecast of +1.9%).  The sales number was actually the lowest in the series recorded history, which tracks back to 1963.  As I highlighted in a column last month on TheStreet.com titled ‘Housing Recovery Starts to Buckle’, I do not believe last year’s budding recovery, fueled by a then effective first time home buyer tax credit, will provide enough force to navigate the headwinds facing the sector. A now impotent stimulus combined with the likelihood of higher mortgage rates over the near-term, as the Fed stops purchasing MBS on March 30th, should prove too much to bear for the sector making any future recovery modest as best.  The sector is still being besieged by foreclosures and now rapidly growing inventories of existing and new homes for sale. 

Inventory of New & Existing Homes:

 

Source: Bloomberg

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Existing Home Sales Moving Back To Pre-Tax Credit Levels?

February 27th, 2010 Michael McDonough 1 comment

The chart below illustrates how existing home sales appear to be pulling back to levels that would have been expected without a surge in demand stemming from the first time home buyer tax credit, despite the programs extension/expansion.  This could be an indication that housing demand was mostly sopped up by the original tax credit, leaving few buyers in the market to take advantage of the new program.  The sector could face additional strife over the months ahead as mortgage rates are generally expected to rise once the Fed stops purchasing MBS at the end of March.  Whether or not the government’s new tax credit will drive a new set of buyers into the market is yet to be seen, but January’s pending home sales (Thursday 10:00AM EST) could provide some clues toward the strength or weakness in home sales over the next couple months.

Existing Home Sales

Source: Bloomberg

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Bumpy Road Ahead For Housing

February 26th, 2010 Michael McDonough Comments off

This morning’s disappointing new home sales release for January reiterates the trend I outlined in my piece published on Real Money this morning titled ‘Housing Recovery Starts to Buckle’. I continue to believe housing will face a number of hurdles this year, and is unlikely to enjoy anything more than a modest, though bumpy, recovery.

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A Bad Day for New Home Sales

February 24th, 2010 Michael McDonough Comments off

January’s record low new home sales data has made it fairly obvious the government’s extended/expanded home buyer tax credit has yet to have a significant impact on the sector.  The pace of new home sales plummeted by 11.2% to a level of 309K in January.  The months supply of new homes rose sharply reaching 9.1 months, versus 8.0 months in December. The median new home price in January fell to $203,500 from $215,600 .  (See Charts)

New Home Sales vs. Months Supply

Source: Bloomberg

Median New Home Price vs. Unsold Homes

Source: Bloomberg

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Home Sales All Around Disappoint

January 27th, 2010 Michael McDonough Comments off

New Homes sales plummeted to a pace of 342K units in December, falling 7.6% from a revised 370K in November (originally 355K). The current Bloomberg consensus forecast was for a pace of 368K. The supply of new homes climbed during the month to 8.1 months versus 7.6 in November. The median new home price rose by 5.2% to $221,300.  This comes after a higher than anticipated drop in existing home sales yesterday. I first mentioned that both these indices contained some downside risks in my Economics Week Ahead.

Both these disappoints were catalyzed by what would have been the expiration of the first time home buyer tax credit, and continued headwinds from the labor and credit markets.  December’s data doesn’t imply the ongoing housing recovery has faltered, but highlights its fragility and the full impact of the government’s tax credit on the sector.  It is generally anticipated that the extension/expansion of the government’s first time home buyer tax credit will draw a new group of buyers into the market over the months ahead; however, if this does not materialize, and mortgage rates rise, credit remains sparse, employment gains are non-existent or subdued, and new foreclosures properties continue to flood the market the recovery could be placed into jeopardy.  Nevertheless, I anticipate that housing will again begin to show signs of a very gradual and volatile recovery over the month’s ahead, but downside risks remain very real.

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US Economics Week Ahead: Nothing’s Certain

January 23rd, 2010 Michael McDonough Comments off

Over the past two weeks new uncertainties have begun pouring into the markets, like the deluge of rain currently striking the west coast—I spent part of last week in Los Angeles.  However, unlike what’s happening over the west coast, the storms investors faced were mostly avoidable.   It all began with legitimate concerns over tightening Chinese monetary policy, but quickly moved to the avoidable with doubts over the reconfirmation of Chairman Bernanke, and the potential impact of President Obama’s imprudent policy agenda toward the financial sector.  Barring these uncertainties, this week’s full calendar of economic and earnings data should help shed some light on the health of the U.S. economy and the sustainability of the current recovery.

On the economic side, this week’s main event should be Wednesday’s FOMC announcement, where the fed should continue making incremental changes to the statement bringing us closer to tightening—which I still believe is a ways off.  However, the meeting may be trumped by news of Chairman Bernanke’s reconfirmation, which could take place as early as this week.  Despite what is turning into a bit of a political circus I do expect Mr. Bernanke will be reconfirmed.

Moving away from the Fed the market will be focusing on the first estimate of fourth quarter GDP on Friday, and critical housing data being released throughout the week.  GDP growth should exceed 4%, but many will argue over the sustainability of this growth, which is being heavily supported by accommodative fiscal and monetary policies.  Housing data will likely be mixed with December’s existing home sales coming under some pressure after the would-be expiration of the first time home buyer tax credit.

On the earnings front we should be hearing from almost a quarter of the S&P 500 with some big names including Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), AT&T (T), Boeing (BA), Caterpillar (CAT), Chevron (CVX), and Raytheon (RTN), Research In Motion (RIMM),Verizon (VZ), Yahoo (YHOO).  Other items that will likely drive headlines this week include President Obama’s State of The Union Address, the World Economic Forum in Davos, and an Apple product release (a tablet computer?).  Finally, the central banks of Japan (Monday & Tuesday) and New Zealand (Thursday) are schedule to meet next week, and could drive some headlines

Here is the rest of this week’s US calendar:

Monday, Jan. 25

10:00 a.m. EST: December’s Existing Home Sales (Risk: Negative, Market Reaction: Significant): What would have been the expiration of the first time home buyer tax credit in November could place some downward pressure on December’s existing home sales.  The original rush of home buyers, looking to take advantage of what was an expiring program, have already finished their purchases.  The extension/expiration of the program should eventually help stoke sales, but there will likely be a delay before a new group of home buyers enters the market.  I should also note that increased foreclosure activity during the month, combined with what I anticipate will be weak sales, could increase the inventory of homes for sales.  I expect we could also see some weakness in existing home values.  The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for existing home sales to decline to 6.1 million in December from 6.5 million a month prior.  Recently, home buyers have been more enticed to purchase existing homes over new homes as they tend to be generally cheaper.  I should also note that the index of pending home sales plunged -16.0% in November, which is an ominous sign.

10:30 a.m. EST: January’s Dallas Fed’s Texas Manufacturing Outlook (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): This index is not highly publicized, but tracks manufacturing activity within the Dallas Feds jurisdiction.  Last month’s survey suggested, “Texas factory activity was flat in December…. The production index, a key indicator of state manufacturing conditions, came in close to zero in December, suggesting output held steady after growing in November for the first time since July 2008.  All indexes for future activity strengthened substantially in December, suggesting a more upbeat six-month outlook. The majority of respondents expect increases in production, new orders and shipments in the next six months. The future business activity index climbed to its highest level in nearly three years, and 41%”

Tuesday, Jan. 26

FOMC Meeting Begins

7:45 a.m. EST: ICSC-Goldman Store Sales (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): This weekly index tracks aggregate store sales across major US retailers, accounting for roughly 10% of total retail sales.  Last week’s number rose 2.0% compared to a drop of -3.0% a week prior.

8:55 a.m. EST: Redbook (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): The Redbook is a weekly measurement of chain stores, discounters, and department store sales.  This indicator tends to be less significant than the ICSC-Goldman Store Sales in forecasting retail sales.  According to the Redbook store sales rose 0.9% last week on a yearly basis.

9:00 a.m. EST: November’s S&P Case Shiller Home Price Index (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): It will be interesting to see what impact the would-be expiration of the first time home buyer tax credit will have on November’s housing prices.  Will sellers looking to sell their homes prior to the expiration have lowered prices or would a surge of buyers on the market help buoy home prices?  In October the Case Shiller Home Price Index ended five consecutive months of gains, lending some credence to the argument home sellers be lowering prices to liquidate their homes.

10:00 a.m. EST: January’s Consumer Confidence (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): Consumers continue to face a barrage of headwinds and tailwinds, which makes forecasting a rather volatile consumer confidence index a tough task.  Nevertheless, I anticipate that tailwinds will have a slight edge this month marginally pushing up the index.  The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for a reading of 53.5, versus 52.9 in December.  Most of this index’s strength has been coming from its expectations component, while the present conditions index has moved back near interim lows.  This index tends to be closely correlated with ABC News comfort index and the Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index.

10:00 a.m. EST: November’s FHFA House Price Index (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): Unlike the Case Shiller Index the FHFA House Price Index rose by 0.6% on a monthly basis in November.  However, like the Case Shiller Index, it will be interesting to monitor what impact the would-be expiration of the first time home buyer tax credit will have on November’s housing prices.

10:00 a.m. EST: January’s State Street Investor Confidence Index (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): The State Street Investor’s Confidence Index measures investors’ tolerance to risk. According to the State Street report in December, “This month’s up-tick in global investor confidence stemmed largely from an improvement in the mood in Asia, where risk appetite rose to an eight-month high,” commented Froot. “Elsewhere portfolio reallocations were modest. With three of the four indices over the neutral level of 100, institutions are continuing to add to their risky asset positions, but at a slower pace than was evident earlier in the year. Investors will be watching for signs of renewed economic growth, and well-designed exit strategies from policy makers, before making more significant reallocations towards risk in 2010.”

10:00 a.m. EST: January’s Richmond Fed’s Survey of Manufacturing (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): The survey hit a soft patch last month after seven months of expansion.  According to the report, “Manufacturing activity in the central Atlantic region pulled back in December from positive territory after expanding during the previous seven months, according to the Richmond Fed’s latest survey. All broad indicators of activity — shipments, new orders and employment — landed in negative territory. Most other indicators also suggested additional softness. Capacity utilization turned negative following seven months of improvement, while backlogs held steady. Vendor delivery times were virtually unchanged, while manufacturers reported slightly quicker growth in inventories.”

Wednesday, Jan. 27

7:00 a.m. EST: MBA Mortgage Applications (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): This index, which tracks new mortgage applications tend to be a reasonable forward looking indicator for home sales, but issues including customers filling out numerous applications could skew the index.  Applications rose 9.1% last week after rising 14.3% a week prior.  Refinance applications jumped 10.7%, while purchase applications rose 4.4%.  A wave of buyers, filling out multiple mortgage applications, that were looking to take advantage of the first time home buyer tax credit–originally set to expire on Nov. 30th–have already completed their transactions, and have recently reduced the demand for mortgages.    However, the recent extension of the first time home buyer tax credit should eventually bring a new set of buyers into the market, which could help support the purchase index over the coming months.   The 4wk moving average of all mortgages was down 1% through the week of January 15th.

10:00 a.m. EST: December’s New Home Sales (Risk: Negative, Market Reaction: Significant): Unlike, existing home sales, new home sales could experience a bit of a bounce in December after several months of relatively low readings.  However, the sharp drop-off in pending home sales(-16% in November) combined with what would have been the expiration of the first time home buyer tax credit could place some pressure on the index, despite a rather optimistic consensus forecast.  It is true that the tax credit had a larger impacted on existing, but I anticipate there should be at least a marginal impact.  The current Bloomberg consensus forecast for new home sales is 372K in December, versus 355K in November.

10:00 a.m. EST: December’s Mass Layoff Activity (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): This data from the BLS will likely continue to show that mass layoff activity is subsiding.

10:00 a.m. EST: Timothy Geithner, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, testifies before House Oversignt Committee on AIG

10:30 a.m. EST: EIA Petroleum Status Report (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): This report measures US domestic petroleum inventories.  Large unanticipated swings in this index could have a significant impact on energy prices.  Last week’s report showed a decline of -0.4 million barrels versus a rise of 3.7 million barrels a week prior.

2:15 p.m. EST: FOMC Announcement (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Significant): It is hard to say whether the outcome of this meeting or the situation around Mr. Bernanke’s reconfirmation will garner more headlines in the press.  With that said I expect no change in policy, and nothing more than incremental changes to the FOMC’s statement (i.e. acknowledging recent improvements and highlighting risks).  I should also note that given this is the first meeting of 2010 the Fed will have a new voting rotation.  For those interested the new voters will be Boston’s Eric Rosengren, Cleveland’s Sandra Pianalto, St. Louis’ James Bullard, and Kansas City’s Thomas Hoenig.  As a side note, if Chairman Bernanke was not to be reconfirmed and Vice-Chairman Donald Kohn was to take his place, Kohn’s term is set for renewal by President Obama in June, which in theory could create another circus.  I personally expect Mr. Bernanke will be reconfirmed, but sadly I don’t have a vote.

9:00 p.m. EST: President Obama delivers his State of the Union Address to Congress

Thursday, Jan. 28

8:30 a.m. EST: December’s Durable Goods Orders (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): Stronger aircraft orders during the month should help bolster the index after rising 0.2% in November.  The current Bloomberg consensus is for an increase in December’s durable goods orders of 2.0%—I believe this may be slightly optimistic.

8:30 a.m. EST: December’s Chicago Fed National Activity Index (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): The CFNAI is an index consisting of 85 separate data sets designed to encompass national economic activity and inflationary pressure. A reading of 0 indicates the economy is growing at the historical trend while a negative or positive result indicates the economy is growing below or above its historical average, respectively. Given the volatile nature of this index, the three-month moving average is typically quoted. This index remains somewhat obscure in the mainstream media and is likely to have a minimal impact on trading. This index has been generally trending up over the preceding ten months, and could show a marginal improvement in December from its reading of -0.32 in November.

8:30 a.m. EST: Jobless Claims (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Significant): Initial claims rose an unexpected 36K last week to 482K, after rising 11K a week prior.  The four week moving average rose to 448,250 from 440,750.  An improving trend in initial jobless claims are indicative of fewer job losses in the BLS’s monthly employment report; however, given the still elevated number of claims the job situation will get worse before it gets better.  The current Bloomberg consensus is for an initial jobless claims reading of 440K on Thursday.

10:30 a.m. EST: EIA Natural Gas Report (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): This report highlights domestic natural gas inventories, which could have a significant impact on the energy sector.

11:00 a.m. EST: Kansas City Fed’s Manufacturing Survey (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): Manufacturing growth remained positive, but moderate somewhat in the region in December.  According to the survey, “Growth in Tenth District manufacturing activity moderated somewhat in December, and producers were slightly less optimistic about the months ahead, with few planning major capital expenditures. Price indexes remained mostly stable.”

4:30 p.m. EST: Fed Balance Sheet & Money Supply (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): Since the Fed’s shift to quantitative easing, the balance sheet has become one method to measure to the Fed’s effectiveness.  The market will pay close attention to the reserve bank credit component, which measures factors supplying   providing reserves into the banking system.  The Fed’s balance sheet fell from a record $2.274 trillion to $2.233 trillion last week.  The fed’s balance sheet has slowly been shifting away from emergency lending facilities to Treasuries, agency debt, and mortgage-backed securities to help moderate long-term interest rates.

Friday, Jan. 29

8:30 a.m. EST: First Estimate 4Q09 GDP (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Significant): The current Bloomberg Consensus forecast is for fourth quarter GDP growth to come in at 4.5%, versus 2.2% a quarter prior.  Personally, I believe this forecast may be slightly too optimistic, and expect the number to be closer to 4%.  Slower inventory liquidations combined with a jump in consumption should prove to be the quarter’s biggest growth engines.   While on the surface the number will look positive, questions will be asked about the sustainability of this growth.  A portion of this growth is still being supported through accommodative fiscal and monetary stimulus, which will eventually begin to wane.  For more on this please see my piece ‘Looking at 2010’s Outlook and Risks’.  I expect GDP growth to peak in either 4Q09 or 1Q10 then gradually diminish throughout the remainder of the year, albeit remaining positive.  In terms of the Fed, relatively tepid growth in a post recession period combined with ultra-high unemployment and subdued inflation should convince the fed to remain on hold through most of 2010.  After the release, don’t be surprised to see a barrage of experts analyzing the details for clues over the sustainability of this growth—you know where I stand.

8:30 a.m. EST: 4Q09 Employment Cost Index (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): Mostly stagnant salaries and wages, offset by some potential increases in benefit payments, should lead to only a modest increment in fourth quarter employment costs.  In the third quarter the index rose 0.4% indicating that wage pressure remains relatively benign.

*9:45 a.m. EST: Chicago PMI (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): The Chicago PMI measures business activity in the mid-West, and is released one business day prior to the ISM. *I should note that the Chicago PMI is released several minutes early to subscribers, so the market could begin reacting to the data as early as 9:42 a.m.  The Chicago PMI is considered a forward looking indicator to the national ISM, so any large unexpected shifts in the Chicago PMI could impact trading.  The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for a reading of 57.0, versus to 60.0 in December.  The PMI covers both the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors.

9:55 a.m. EST: January’s Final Consumer Sentiment (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): January’s final consumer sentiment release will likely be mostly unchanged from the preliminary reading of 72.8.  The index has been trending up, but concerns over the job market and other adverse factors are limiting the upside.  The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for a final reading of 73.0.

3:00 p.m. EST: January’s Farm Prices (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): Given the relationship between farms prices and food prices, this index could have significant implications on future headline CPI.

Enjoy the weekend!

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US Economics Week Ahead: Retailers not Dreaming of a White Christmas

December 19th, 2009 Michael McDonough Comments off

Retailers are not dreaming of a white Christmas.  Whether a snowstorm impacting the Mid-Atlantic region this weekend will impact an arguably lackluster holiday shopping season is yet to be seen.  But, bad weather does have a tendency of keeping would be shoppers home, however, these shoppers will still have access to online stores, but given the proximity to the holiday, would likely be forced to dish out expedited shipping charges.  Despite the shortened week the market will be receiving several early Christmas presents including November’s new and existing home sales data, durable goods orders, personal income and outlays, and finally December’s final consumer sentiment reading.  Given the holiday many market participants will likely be away from their desks, which could cause higher than usually volatility on the back of light buying.  Investors will also be paying close attention to Thursday’s jobless claims data after disappointing data last week.

On the earnings front we will be hearing from Micron (MU), Red Hat (RHT), Walgreen (WAG), and Conagra (CAG).  Investors will also want to look for headlines from Iraq where it has been reported that Iran took over an oil well in the south of the country.  If the situation escalates, geopolitical instability in the Middle East not only has the potential cause a spike in oil prices, but could draw investors away from risk.  On oil, OPEC is scheduled to meet next week, and will likely keep production unchanged.  Enjoy the holidays.

Here is the rest of this week’s US calendar:

Monday, Dec. 21

8:30 a.m. EST: November’s Chicago Fed National Activity Index (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): The CFNAI is an index consisting of 85 separate data sets designed to encompass national economic activity and inflationary pressure. A reading of 0 indicates the economy is growing at the historical trend while a negative or positive result indicates the economy is growing below or above its historical average, respectively. Given the volatile nature of this index, the three-month moving average is typically quoted. This index remains somewhat obscure in the mainstream media and is likely to have a minimal impact on trading. This index has been trending upwards over the preceding nine months, and should show some improvement in November from its reading of -1.08 in October.

Tuesday, Dec. 22

7:45 a.m. EST: ICSC-Goldman Store Sales (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): This weekly index tracks aggregate store sales across major US retailers, accounting for roughly 10% of total retail sales.  Given recent data supporting an increasing US saving rates and a worsening employment situation, this index could face some downward pressure.  Last week’s number rose +0.4% compared to a drop of -1.3% a week prior.

8:30 a.m. EST: Third Quarter 2009 GDP (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): I anticipate that very little will change from the BEA’s preliminary estimate of third quarter 2009 GDP at 2.8%.  The preliminary estimate was down markedly from the BEA’s advanced estimate of 3.5%.  The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for a reading of 2.8%.  This release should be a non-event barring any unforeseen revisions.

8:30 a.m. EST: Third Quarter Revised Corporate Profits (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): The importance of this release is somewhat muted given its timing toward the end of the 3Q09 earnings season.  However, since these profits tie into GDP growth, and do not always move lock step with individual corporations’ aggregate earnings data, the data can have an unexpected impact on growth.  The original 3Q09 corporate profits release indicated profits grew at 10.6%.

8:55 a.m. EST: Redbook (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): The Redbook is a weekly measurement of chain stores, discounters, and department store sales.  This indicator tends to be less significant than the ICSC-Goldman Store Sales in forecasting retail sales.  According to the Redbook store sales rose 1.5% last week on a yearly basis.

10:00 a.m. EST: November’s Existing Home Sales (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Significant): Pending home sales rose 3.7% in October, which should bode well for November’s existing home sales.  Existing home sales jumped 10.1% in October, primarily due to buyers rushing contracts to take advantage of the first time home buyer tax credit prior to its original expiration in November.  The supply of existing homes continued to fall to 7.0 months from 8.0 months in September. The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for a rate of existing home sales of 6.25 million in November versus 6.10 million in October.

10:00 a.m. EST: FHFA House Price Index (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) monthly house price index is compiled by using loan data provided by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which means all the data within the index consists of conventional mortgages within the limitations of the GSE’s.  The FHFA’s monthly purchase only index was unchanged in September, while August’s reading was revised down to -0.5% from -0.3%.  The monthly index tends to be relatively volatile, but should continue to trend up in-line with the Case-Shiller home price index.

Wednesday, Dec. 23

7:00 a.m. EST: MBA Mortgage Applications (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): This index, which tracks new mortgage applications tends to be a reasonable forward looking indicator for home sales, but issues including customers filling out numerous applications could skew the index.  Applications rose 0.3% last week after rising 8.5% a week prior.  Refinance applications rose modestly be 0.9%, while purchase applications fell -0.1%.  A wave of buyers, filling out multiple mortgage applications, that were looking to take advantage of the first time home buyer tax credit–originally set to expire on Nov. 30th–have already completed their transactions, and have recently reduced the demand for mortgages.    However, the recent extension of the first time home buyer tax credit should eventually bring a new set of buyers into the market, which could help support the purchase index over the coming months.

8:30 a.m. EST: November’s Personal Income and Outlays (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Significant): Personal income should continue to extend it gains, growing for a fifth consecutive month, while spending should also rise on stronger motor vehicle sales during November.  More importantly, headline and core CPI should remain relatively tame, placing inflationary concerns on the back burner, at least for the time being.  The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for an increase in income of 0.5% (0.2% in October), and an increase in spending of 0.6% (0.7% in October), while core PCE is anticipated to rise a modest 0.1% (0.2% in October) in November.

9:55 a.m. EST: December’s Final Consumer Sentiment (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Significant): December’s preliminary consumer sentiment index jump to 73.4 from a reading of 67.4 in November.  Improving market conditions and some better than anticipated labor data during the month should provide a modest bump in December’s final sentiment reading.  The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for a reading of 73.5.

10:00 a.m. EST: November’s New Home Sales (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Significant): As with existing home sales, new home sales likely rose in November.  The rate of new home sales in October was the highest rate since September 2008, and November’s release should be even higher.  The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for the rate of new home sales to increase to 440K from 430K a month prior.

10:30 a.m. EST: EIA Petroleum Status Report (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): This report measures US domestic petroleum inventories.  Large unanticipated swings in this index could have a significant impact on energy prices.  Last week this report showed an unexpected decline of -3.7 million barrels versus a drop of -3.8 million barrels a week prior.

Thursday, Dec. 24

8:30 a.m. EST: November’s Durable Goods (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): Durable goods orders should recover a portion of October’s -0.6% decline on the back of stronger motor vehicle sales during the month.  The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for an increment in durable goods orders of 0.5%, versus a drop of -0.6% a month prior. Unfortunately, last month’s number excluding the volatile transportation component fell -1.3%.  Additionally, an unexpected jump in civilian aircraft orders last month (+50%) may have been overstated and I anticipate this could lead to a strong drop of this component in November.

8:30 a.m. EST: Jobless Claims (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Significant): Initial claims rose 7K last week to 480K, after rising 17K a week prior. Despite the increment in last week’s claim data the four week moving average improved to 467,500 from 473,750.  Improving initial jobless claims are indicative of fewer job losses in the BLS’s monthly employment report; however, the job situation will still get worse before it gets better.  The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is expecting claims to come in at 470K, a decrease of -10K from last week.

10:30 a.m. EST: EIA Natural Gas Report (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): This report highlights domestic natural gas inventories, which could have a significant impact on the energy sector.

4:30 p.m. EST: Fed Balance Sheet & Money Supply (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): Since the Fed’s shift to quantitative easing, the balance sheet has become one method to measure to the Fed’s effectiveness.  The market will pay close attention to the reserve bank credit component, which measures factors supplying   providing reserves into the banking system.  The Fed’s balance sheet jumped last week to US$2.218trn from US$2.169trn, due increased purchases of agency MBS.    The fed’s balance sheet has slowly been shifting away from emergency lending facilities to Treasuries, agency debt, and mortgage-backed securities to help moderate long-term interest rates.

Friday, Dec. 25

All Markets Closed—Merry Christmas!

Enjoy the weekend!

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US Economics Week Ahead: Is There Time for Turkey?

November 21st, 2009 Michael McDonough Comments off

The market will be providing a cornucopia of data this week centered on Tuesday and Wednesday, which you can mull over as you begin brining your turkeys—as an aside here’s the recipe I will be following this year.  Also, I wrote an interesting column on Friday for Real Money titled ‘Talking Turkey on Agricultural Trends’ that I recommend you read.

The market will digest 15 important data releases in just three days.  But here’s what you should be paying attention to; the week’s most critical data will likely come in the form of the FOMC minutes, home sales, personal income and outlays, and the first revision of third quarter GDP, which likely won’t look as rosy as the advanced estimate.  On the housing front we will get the FHFA and Case Shiller Home Price Indices.  The MBA mortgage application index has also been garnering more attention as purchase applications continue to plummet to 12 year lows.  Looking toward the consumer, both the Conference Board’s and University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment indices are schedule for release.  Finally, I should mention that on Wednesday we will be getting October’s durable goods data.

Despite the shortened week we will be hearing earnings from the final Dow Jones Industrial component, HP.  In addition to HP, we can expect earnings from Medtronic, Barnes and Nobles, Borders, and John Deere.  This week the Treasury will be auctioning off a record $118 billion in two-, five- and seven-year Treasury instruments, which could place some pressure on bond markets.  However, so far demand for bonds, despite record issuances has remained in place, partially on the back of higher foreign demand.

Here is the rest of this week’s US calendar:

Monday, Nov. 23

8:30 a.m. EST: October’s Chicago Fed National Activity Index (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): The CFNAI is an index consisting of 85 separate data sets designed to encompass national economic activity and inflationary pressure. A reading of 0 indicates the economy is growing at the historical trend while a negative or positive result indicates the economy is growing below or above its historical average, respectively. Given the volatile nature of this index, the three-month moving average is typically quoted. This index remains somewhat obscure in the mainstream media and is likely to have a minimal impact on trading. This index has shown improvements over the preceding eight months but is expected to decline slightly in October from its reading of -0.81 in September.

10:00 a.m. EST: October’s Existing Home Sales (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Significant): Existing home sales could gain some upward momentum in October following a sharp rise in September’s pending home sales index, which rose 6.1%–this index has been up for eight consecutive months.  The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for existing home sales of 5.70 million 5.57 million a month prior.

Tuesday, Nov. 24

7:45 a.m. EST: ICSC-Goldman Store Sales (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): This weekly index tracks aggregate store sales across major US retailers, accounting for roughly 10% of total retail sales.  Given recent data supporting an increasing US saving rates and a worsening employment situation, this index could face some downward pressure.  Last week’s number indicated a weekly decline of -0.1% in store sales compared to a decline of -0.1% a week prior.

8:30 a.m. EST: First Revision of 3Q09 GDP (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Significant): It is likely that the BEA’s advanced 3Q09 GDP estimate of 3.5% will be revised down significantly due to a higher than anticipated trade deficit, lower non-residential investment, slower than expected inventory rebuilding, and a small markdown due to worse than anticipated personal consumption data.   The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for the 3Q09 first revision GDP growth to come in at 2.8%.  This revision, especially if below the market consensus, could cause some market participants to start questioning the overall strength of the US economic recovery, however, the 4Q09 growth pace is still on pace to finish around 3.5%.  Looking ahead, stronger than anticipated inventory liquidations during the quarter will likely be made up during 4Q09 and the first part of 2010 helping buoy growth.  Looking further into 2010, growth should remain stable, but below trend.

8:30 a.m. EST: Third Quarter 2009 Corporate Profits (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): The importance of this release is somewhat muted given its timing toward the end of the 3Q09 earnings season.  However, since these profits tie into GDP growth they do not always move lock step with individual corporations’ aggregate earnings data.  In 2Q09 corporate profits reportedly grew around 5.7%.

8:55 a.m. EST: Redbook (Risk: Negative, Market Reaction: Marginal): The Redbook is a weekly measurement of chain stores, discounters, and department store sales.  This indicator tends to be less significant than the ICSC-Goldman Store Sales in forecasting retail sales.  According to the Redbook store sales were rose 2.0% last week on a year over year basis.

9:00 a.m. EST: September’s S&P Case Shiller Home Price Index (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): The S&P Case Shiller HPI has demonstrated four consecutive months of gains, during which it gained 5%.  However, on a yearly basis both the 10 and 20 city indices are still down roughly 11%.  Nevertheless, according to August’s data 19 of 20 cities reported improvements on their year over year declines.  We can expect to see some continued improvement in September.

10:00 a.m. EST: November’s Consumer Confidence (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): The Conference Board’s measure of consumer confidence should remain relatively steady after plunging to 47.7 from 53.4 in October.  Last month’s sharp decline was mostly due to concerns over the labor market.  The Bloomberg consensus forecast for November’s release is a marginal decline to 47.0, but I should mention that individual forecasts range from a low of 44.0 to a high of 47.0

10:00 a.m. EST: Third Quarter 2009 and September’s Monthly FHFA Home Price Index (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) monthly/quarterly house price index is compiled by using loan data provided by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which means all the data within the index consists of conventional mortgages within the limitations of the GSE’s. According to the FHFA’s second quarter report housing prices fell 0.7%on a quarter over a quarter basis, or 6.1% on a yearly basis.  The FHFA’s monthly price index fell for the first time since April in August by -0.3%, but should turn positive again in September. 

10:00 a.m. EST: November’s Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): The Richmond Fed manufacturing activity index has been in positive territory since May, but showed some signs of weakness in October falling from 14 to 7.   The new orders index, which tends to be a forward looking component, has fallen for three straight months this could potentially place some additional downward pressure on the headline index.  Aggregate changes in the Fed district’s manufacturing surveys could be a good indicator not only for the country’s economic health, but also ISM performance.

10:00 a.m. EST: State Street Investor Confidence Index (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): The State Street Investor’s Confidence Index measures investors’ tolerance to risk. According to the State Street report, “[Last] month’s, institutional investors have paused to take stock,” commented Froot. “The Global Index reading of 108.4 remains comfortably above the neutral level of 100 for a seventh consecutive month, but underlying flows have been tempered somewhat from the very strong levels of July and August. While the US earnings season has been relatively robust so far, the number of positive surprises that have been observed in employment, retail sales, manufacturing and trade figures has diminished considerably, and this may be influencing investor risk appetite.”

2:00 p.m. EST: FOMC Minutes (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): Despite only modest changes in the FOMC’s statement, analysts will likely be looking very closely at the motivation behind these nuances.  In any case, it is unlikely these minutes will provide any groundbreaking new information for market participants.

Wednesday, Nov. 25

7:00 a.m. EST: MBA Mortgage Applications (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): This index, which tracks new mortgage applications tends to be a reasonable forward looking indicator for home sales, but issues including customers filling out numerous applications could skew the index.  Applications fell 2.5% last week after gaining 3.2% a week prior.  Unlike the week prior which saw a precipitous drop in purchase applications while refinance applications remained positive; last week’s data was negative all around, despite lower interest rates.  Refinance applications dropped 1.4%, while purchase applications fell and additional which 4.7%.  A wave of buyers, filling out multiple mortgage applications, that were looking to take advantage of the first time home buyer tax credit–originally set to expire on Nov. 30th–have already completed their transactions, thereby reducing the current demand for mortgages.    However, the recent extension of the first time home buyer tax credit should eventually bring a new set of buyers into the market, which could help support the purchase index over the coming months–don’t forget buying a house can be a long drawn out process.   Nevertheless, increased lending standards for FHA loans, due to the organizations worsening finances, could place some headwinds on the purchase index’s recovery.

8:30 a.m. EST: October’s Durable Goods Orders (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Significant): Durable goods should experience a modest increase in October after gaining 1.4% in September on the back of relatively strong machinery and transportation equipment orders.  Weakness in October for civilian aircraft orders should place some pressure on index, with the current Bloomberg consensus forecast expecting a rise of only 0.5%.  It will also be important to keep an eye on the less volatile ex-transport index.

8:30 a.m. EST: October’s Personal Income & Outlays (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Significant): An increment in auto purchases—after dropping sharply upon the expiration of the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program–should help bolster consumer spending, which fell -0.5% in September.  This release will be important because it will be the first look into the consumer’s fourth quarter spending habits leading into the holiday season.  Personal income is expected to show a modest gain for the month, but still remain down around -2% on a year over year basis.  The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for an increment in spending of 0.5%, and an increase in income of 0.2%.  At the same time, analysts are anticipating a modest jump in Core PCE of 0.2% after rising 0.1% in September.

8:30 a.m. EST: Jobless Claims (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Significant): Initial claims remain unchanged last week at 505K, after falling 12K a week prior. I should note there is again the potential for initial jobless claims slip below the psychological barrier of 500K this week, which could have the potential of at least temporarily influence trading.  Nevertheless, despite second derivative improvements these levels still indicate continued losses for monthly payrolls—albeit at a slower pace—coupled further deterioration to the unemployment rate, which has already exceeded 10%. The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is expecting claims to come in at 504K, essentially unchanged from last week.

9:55 a.m. EST: November’s Final Consumer Sentiment (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Significant): After a disappointing preliminary November release of 66.0, consumer sentiment will likely finish the month up only marginally to what the Bloomberg consensus forecast anticipates will be a level of 67.0.  Like the Conference Board’s measure a weakening job market—albeit at a slower pace—continues to weigh on consumer attitudes.  Also interesting to note is the fact that in every month since June final number has finished higher than the preliminary release.

10:00 a.m. EST: October’s New Home Sales (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Significant): Like existing home sales, new home sales should continue to climb in October, but at a more modest pace.  The primary reason behind this is likely the fact that existing home sales can be bought at a more attractive price compared to their new home counterparts.  The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for the rate of new home sales to increase to 410K from 402K a month prior.

10:30 a.m. EST: EIA Petroleum Status Report (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): This report measures US domestic petroleum inventories.  Large unanticipated swings in this index could have a significant impact on energy prices.  Last week this report showed a decline of -0.9 million barrels versus a gain of 1.8 million barrels a week prior.

12:00 p.m. EST: EIA Natural Gas Report (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): This report highlights domestic natural gas inventories, which could have a significant impact on the energy sector.

Thursday, Nov. 26

Thanksgiving Markets Closed

Friday, Nov. 27

Black Friday

4:30 p.m. EST: Fed Balance Sheet & Money Supply (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): Since the Fed’s shift to quantitative easing, the balance sheet has become one method to measure to the Fed’s effectiveness.  The market will pay close attention to the reserve bank credit component, which measures factors supplying   providing reserves into the banking system.  The Fed’s balance sheet ballooned last week to US$2.192trn from US$2.117trn a week prior on the back of higher agency and mortgage-backed securities holdings.    The fed’s balance sheet has slowly been shifting away from emergency lending facilities to Treasuries, agency debt, and mortgage-backed securities to help moderate long-term interest rates.

Enjoy the weekend!

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New Homes Sales & Durable Goods

October 28th, 2009 Michael McDonough Comments off

September’s new home sales came in at a disappointing seasonally adjusted annual rate of 402K units, compared to a revised pace of 417K a month prior.  In September the supply of new homes remained stable at 7.5 months. The median new home price increased by 2.5% to $204,800.  The reason for the decline can likely be attributed to a grouping of factors that include rising mortgage rates, weak labor market, and the waning effects of the first time home buyer tax credit set for expiration at the end of November–this will however likely be extended.

In other news, September’s durable goods orders rose 1.0% inline with the Bloomberg consensus estimate.  A rise in orders for defense aircraft more than offset a decline for civilian aircraft.  Overall this release continues to indicate the economy is in the midst of a modest recovery.

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