Thursday, July 23, 2009

Quick Notes and Articles for the Day - July 23

Existing Home Sales Rise for 3rd Straight Month, Mortgage Rates Fall - According to a report by the National Association of Realtors, for the third straight month resales of single-family homes and condos rose with June coming in at a 3.6% clip to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million which they said is the highest level since October 2008. The number was higher than expected by most economists that had predicted 4.85 million sales. Inventories of unsold homes dropped to a 9.4 month supply. The NAR stated that for price stabilization to occur an inventory of 7 months would need to be reached. Several analysts have pointed to the fact that the $8,000 tax incentives have spurred home sales, but primarily only on the lower priced homes.

According to, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate dipped to 5.55% from 5.58% a week ago. The average 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.89% from 4.93% last week. The average jumbo 30-year fixed rate declined to 6.49%.

Jobless Claims Rose, Continuing Claims Fell - The Labor Department reported that first-time claims for state unemployment benefits rose by 30,000 to 554,000. Continuing claims for unemployment benefits fell during the week ending July 11 by 88,000 to 6.22 million. A Labor Department spokesman said claims are still volatile due to issues related to automobile plant layoffs.

Natural Gas Inventories Rise - According to the Energy Information Administration report, natural gas inventories rose 66 billion cubic feet in the week ended July 17. At 2,952 billion cubic feet, stocks were 568 billion cubic feet higher than last year at this time and 458 billion cubic feet above the five-year average. On a side note, the House passed a bill the instituted R&D into using natural gas for corporate fleets to the tune of $30 million a year, but the Senate has not passed the bill. Considering this is very clean and abundant fuel in the US, you would think that this would become a priority.

Stocks Rally Above 9,000 -Stocks rallied Thursday morning sending the Dow industrials above 9,000 for the first time since January. The gains were due to upbeat earnings and news that U.S. sales of existing homes rose for a third straight month in June.


Obama May Prove Best Friend Insurers Ever Had - By Margaret Carlson - Bloomberg - "Point a camera and he will come. That’s President Barack Obama’s attitude since returning from a world tour to find his plan to overhaul the U.S. health- care system in need of resuscitation."

Partisan Health Care Politics - By David Brooks & Gail Collins - The New York Times - "Yes, the Republicans always scream 'Rationing!' but it would be nice if there was some rationing in the Democratic bills." - "Why do Republicans insist on throwing up barriers when it comes to increased efficiency?"

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