This week, almost every piece of economic data is showing signs of
recovery. From housing, to manufacturing, to inflation, it has all been
good news this week.
Mortgage rates continue to remain ridiculously low and last week both mortgage
applications for purchases and refinances jumped a healthy 10.3% and 26.4%
respectively. Many believe that the low rates and combined with the end
of the holiday season, are the catalysts to moving buyers back into the
market. Real estate and mortgage professionals around the country are
reporting significant increases in borrower and buyer activity.
Activity in new home sales is picking up dramatically based on the Home Builders
Housing Market Index. The month of December is showing the best reading
in four and a half years and it is also the 4th straight month of
improvement since the low of September.
Housing Starts dipped in December, which is not uncommon during the holiday
season, however the overall pace remains somewhat healthy. In addition,
what is quite encouraging is that permits for new construction continue to be
heading in the upward direction.
Inflation on the wholesale and retail levels continues to remain virtually
non-existent. We had some jumps last year which began raising concerns
about rising inflation, however at this time the upward trend has
stopped. Energy prices remain well under control and in fact have come
down recently. The abnormally warm winter, especially in the Northeast,
seems to be playing a part in the lower energy prices.
Industrial Production and Manufacturing are both increasing in a healthy
fashion. Considering when you see this data improving, even during the
end of the year and holidays, that is always a strong sign and one that is
welcomed by many.
The employment picture, which is the biggest driver toward the economic
recovery, reported the lowest week of First Time Jobless Claims since…well I
can’t even remember. Claims last week dropped 50,000 all the way down to
Finally, you know that little thing in Europe that has been playing havoc with
the markets, (the Debt Crisis), even the daily panic about that seems to have
subsided. By no means is the crisis over, however the markets do not seem
to be making radical moves based upon every word uttered about it. In
fact the stock market has been somewhat stable this week and it appears that
many investors are sitting back with a wait
and see attitude.
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