Money Talk Podcast, Friday Jan. 2, 2015
Advisors on This Week’s ShowMax Hoelzl and Joel Dresang)
Week in Review (Dec. 29 – Jan. 2)
Significant economic indicators & reports
No significant reports
The rise in house prices continued slowing in October, based on the S&P/Case-Shiller index, although an S&P economist suggested the size of increases may start accelerating again in coming months. According to the 20-city composite index, year-to-year price gains have reached 4.5% – down from 4.9% in September and a peak of 13.8% in November 2013. In the latest report, eight of the 20 cities showed a rising pace of price increases, up from two in September and none in August.
The cheeriest attitude toward current conditions since February 2008 helped boost consumer confidence in December, the Conference Board reported. Expectations for six months hence suffered a slight setback, but overall confidence rose to an index reading of 92.6 from 91 in November. Economists consider consumer confidence an indicator of spending plans, and consumer spending accounts for about 70% of U.S. economic growth.
Commitments to buy existing houses rose slightly in November and recorded a year-to-year increase for the third month in a row, according to the National Association of Realtors. With lower gas prices keeping more money in consumers’ pockets and rents nearing seven-year highs, pending home sales could keep trending up, an economist for the trade association said.
The moving four-week average for initial unemployment claims edged up for the first time in three weeks but remained well below the 47-year average, according to data from the Department of Labor. The moving average was 56% below the recession high and remained and 19% under the year-ago average, suggesting employers continue to be reluctant to let workers go.
Markets closed for New Year’s
Manufacturing expanded for the 19th month in a row in December, although at a slightly slower rate, according to the Institute for Supply Management. A diminished pace of new orders, production, backlogs and exports helped pull down the overall index from November and October, when it matched a three-year high. A global economic slowdown led by China is challenging the momentum for U.S. manufacturing.
The Commerce Department said construction spending fell in November, led by decreases in public projects. Residential building accounted for more spending in November than October but declined slightly from the November 2013 pace.
Where the Markets Closed for the Week
- Nasdaq – 4,727, down 80 points or 1.7%
- Standard & Poor’s 500 – 2,058, down 31 points or 1.5%
- 10-year U.S. Treasury Note – 2.12%, down 0.13 point
- Dow Jones industrial – 17,833, down 221 points or 1.2%