Weekly Economic Update for February 26, 2018
“True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.”
FEWER HOMES ARE SELLING
Demand is high, prices are high, and inventory is slim. In view of these factors, the 4.8% year-over-year fall for existing home sales just reported by the National Association of Realtors is not surprising. It represents the largest annual decline seen since August 2014. Other January NAR data showed home buying down 3.2% from December levels and a median sale price of $240,500, up 5.8% in 12 months.1
FED MINUTES EMPHASIZE THE “GRADUAL”
Minutes from the January Federal Open Market Committee meeting appeared Wednesday, and while FOMC members saw “substantial underlying economic momentum,” they also stated that “gradual policy firming would be appropriate.” To many investors and economists, that hinted at a March rate increase. The CME Group’s FedWatch tool puts the odds of a quarter-point March move at 83.1%.2,3
OIL ADVANCES for a SECOND STRAIGHT WEEK
A 1.2% Friday climb left WTI crude 3.3% higher than it had been seven days earlier on the NYMEX. Oil settled at $63.55 a barrel Friday, still down 1.8% for February.4
Across February 20-23, all three major Wall Street benchmarks advanced. The Nasdaq Composite set the pace with a 1.35% gain, wrapping up the week at 7,337.39. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average added a little less: the former rose 0.55% to 2,747.30; the latter, 0.36% to 25,309.99.5
THIS WEEK: On Monday, Wall Street eyes results from Boise Cascade, CoreLogic, Dean Foods, Fitbit, Nutrisystem, and Palo Alto Networks, and January new home sales numbers also appear. New Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell testifies on monetary policy in Congress Tuesday; investors will also look at the Conference Board’s latest consumer confidence index, January hard goods orders, and earnings from AutoZone, Bank of Montreal, Discovery Communications, Etsy, Express Scripts, Extended Stay America, Frontier Communications, Hertz Global, IMAX, Live Nation, Macy’s, Papa John’s, Priceline, Sempra Energy, Square, TiVo, and Toll Brothers. On Wednesday, the Street reviews the second estimate of Q4 GDP, January pending home sales, and earnings from Analog Devices, Bayer, Chico’s FAS, Hilton Grand Vacations, Hostess Brands, L Brands, La Quinta Holdings, Lowe’s, Office Depot, Snyder’s-Lance, and Valeant Pharmaceuticals. Thursday offers ISM’s February factory PMI, January personal spending data, and earnings from AMC, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Gap, Kohl’s, and Nordstrom. On Friday, Foot Locker and JCPenney present earnings, and the University of Michigan issues its latest consumer sentiment index.
Sources: wsj.com, bigcharts.com, treasury.gov - 2/23/185,6,7,8 Indices are unmanaged, do not incur fees or expenses, and cannot be invested into directly. These returns do not include dividends. 10-year TIPS real yield = projected return at maturity given expected inflation.
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1 - cnbc.com/2018/02/21/january-existing-home-sales-.html [2/21/18]
2 - investors.com/news/economy/fed-minutes-policy-meeting/ [2/21/18]
5 - markets.wsj.com/us [2/23/18]