Here we are, the final Friday of 2011. Today’s newsletter will be a combination of both the latest economic news along with some news highlights of the year.
This week the Case-Shiller Home Value Index showed that home prices are still declining. The index reported an average drop in home values in 20 major cities by 1.2% in the month of October. Additionally, the report indicates that values are down 3.4% from a year ago. The one saving grace in this report, and the reason why I don’t put too much emphasis on it, is that the numbers reflected are for October. We are now at the end of the year and in the last two months we have had mortgage rates hit all time lows as well as many real estate firms reporting an increase in activity recently. I believe that January and February reports will show improvement.
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To reinforce my feelings about future reports, the National Association of Realtors released the November data on Pending Home Sales. The upward trend continues with a strong increase of 7.3% which follows October’s increase of 10.4%.
Consumer Confidence continues to improve month after month. The latest reading shows that consumers feel more optimistic about the economy today than they have in the last eight months. With all the political mudslinging in the next 11 months expect Consumer Confidence to jump up and down. The economy is slooooly getting better so that’s good however there are still many Americans out of work so expect the Consumer Confidence to jump around.
First Time Jobless Claims reversed their downward trend with an increase of 15,000. Although this increase was more than anticipated, I see no reason to worry about this one report. The trend for claims has been steadily declining. In fact, the 4 week moving average for new jobless claims along with on-going claims are both at the lowest point since the beginning of the recovery from the recession.
The DOW Jones Industrial Average is slated to finish the year with total gains of approximately 9%. The NASDAQ and S&P are both very close to where they began the year. They are down .47% and up .43% respectively.
Some Headlines from 2011 to reflect on…
Car sales increased 10.3% from 2010 showing a strong recovery for the automobile sector.
Congress has the lowest approval rating in the history of government. (As Ricky Bobby said in the movie Talladega Nights, “If you ain’t first… your last”)
Washington DC has the distinction and honor of being known as the region in which it takes the longest to complete a foreclosure with an all time high average of 1053 days. Florida is second with an average of 1027 days and New York a close third with 906 days.
The Euro Debt Crisis wreaked havoc on the global markets with the constant back and forth of reports that the problem was isolated. (Fortunately the crisis is solved...no its not…yes it is…no its not…)
Osama Bin Laden is killed.
Last but certainly not least, the passing of Steve Jobs. A man who set out to change the world, and did exactly that. Thank you Steve for your vision, your passion and all you gave to us.
As your mortgage professional, I look forward to a great 2012 and I wish you a very happy healthy and safe new year.