Thursday, October 1, 2009

Quick Notes for the Day - October 1

Consumer Spending Jumps on Cash for Clunkers - The Commerce Department reported that consumer spending jumped 1.3% in August which was the largest jump in eight years. The "Cash for Clunkers" program (government subsidies to buy cars) was considered the driving force behind the change. After adjusting for inflation, real consumer spending rose 0.9%, also the biggest gain since October 2001. Personal incomes edged higher by 0.2%. After taxes and after adjusting for higher prices, real disposable incomes fell 0.2%, the third decline in a row. Consumer prices rose 0.3% in the month. Prices excluding food and energy rose 0.1%. In the past year, these so-called core prices are up 1.3%, the slowest core inflation rate since September 2001.

Pending Homes Sales Rises Again - For the seventh month in a row, the pending home sales index rose with the latest figure being a rise of 6.4% in August to its highest level since March 2007 according to the National Association of Realtors. For the first time since the index was created in 2001, the index has risen for seven straight months. The pending-home-sales index has been stronger than existing-home sales (closing of sale). The pending-sales index has risen 19% since December versus closed sales that are up about 8%.

30 Year Mortgages Drop Below 5%, 15 Year Rates at Record Low - According to Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.94% for the week ending Oct. 1, down from 5.04% last week and 6.10% a year ago. The mortgage hasn't been below 5% since the week ending May 28, when it averaged 4.91%.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.36% this week, down from last week's 4.46% average. The mortgage averaged 5.78% a year ago. It hasn't been lower since Freddie Mac started tracking it in 1991.

ISM Index Drops Slightly to 52.6 - The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reported Thursday that the ISM index dropped slightly to 52.6 in September versus 52.9 in August. While still an expansion (readings above 50 indicate expansion), most economists had predicted a reading closer to 54.

Bernanke - No Immediate Risks to Dollar's Status - The dollar is not at any immediate risk of losing its status as a reserve currency, Federal Chairman Ben Bernanke said Thursday during a question and answer session with the House Financial Services Committee. But if the U.S. doesn't put its "economic house in order," risk could eventually grow for the U.S. currency, Bernanke said, referring to a growing projected budget deficit.

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