Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Higher markets on improving economic data

Dow  rose 41. advancers over decliners 3-1 & NAZ was up 9.  The MLP index  gained 2+ to the 319s & the REIT index added 3 to the 337s.  Junk bond funds inched higher after recent selling & Treasuries had modest gains.  Oil rebounded almost 1 to the 48s & gold slid lower, staying under 1200.

AMJ (Alerian MLP Index tracking fund)

Light Sweet Crude Oil Futures,A

Gold Apr 17

3 Stocks You Should Own Right Now - Click Here!

The US cost of living rose in Feb, while prices increased from a year ago by the most in 5 years, reinforcing the view that inflation is in line with the Fed's goal.  The consumer-price index climbed 0.1% from the previous month after a 0.6% Jan advance that was the largest in nearly 4 years, Labor Dept figures showed.  The forecast called for no change.  Compared with Feb 2016, the CPI was up 2.7%.  The figures are consistent with the Fed's inflation objective &, combined with a labor market at or near full employment, help explain why policy makers will probably raise interest rates.  Some commodity prices have rebounded & other costs including rents & medical expenses continue to firm up.  The core CPI measure, which excludes volatile food & fuel costs, rose 0.2% after a 0.3% gain in the previous month & increased 2.2% from Feb 2016, after rising 2.3%.  The Fed's preferred gauge of inflation, which is the Commerce Dept's personal consumption expenditures measure, climbed 1.9% in Jan from a year earlier.  It hasn't matched the central bank's 2% goal since Apr 2012.  Energy costs decreased 1% from a month earlier, the first decline since Jul & reflecting a 3% drop in gasoline.  Food prices rose 0.2%, the biggest advance since Sep 2015.  Expenses climbed in Feb for shelter, recreation, clothing, air fares & medical care.  Prices fell for new & used vehicles & also household furnishings.  Expenses for shelter climbed 0.3%.  Owners-equivalent rent, one of the categories designed to track rental prices, also rose 0.3%.  The rise in the cost of living over the past year has meant little in the way of bigger paychecks.  Hourly earnings adjusted for inflation were unchanged from Feb 2016.

Confidence among US homebuilders is the strongest since the mid-2000s housing boom as sales prospects improve despite rising mortgage rates, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo.  Builder sentiment gauge rose to 71 in Mar, the highest in 12 years, from an unrevised 65 in Feb.  The forecast was for 65 (readings greater than 50 indicate more respondents reported good market conditions).  A measure of 6-month sales outlook increased to 78 from 73, matching the highest since 2005; index of current sales climbed 7 points to 78, the highest since 2004.  Prospective buyer traffic gauge rose to 54 from 46.  The NAHB index has jumped since the election victory, as optimism for plans to cut regulations & boost growth blunted the typical cooling effect of rising interest rates.  While the 30-year fixed mortgage rate is at a 10-week high, borrowing costs are still low by historical standards, & the economy & labor market continue to grow at a steady pace.  The group said developers also were buoyed by Trump's Feb directive to rescind an Obama-era environmental rule affecting building permits.  “While builders are clearly confident, we expect some moderation in the index moving forward,” the NAHB said.  “Builders continue to face a number of challenges, including rising material prices, higher mortgage rates, and shortages of lots and labor.”

U.S. Homebuilder Confidence Rises to Highest Since June 2005

Ahead of Janet's talk in a few hours, there is not much to do for the stock market.  A rate hike is baked in already, although what she has to say about future will get a lot of attention by traders.  Economic data is good for the important housing industry, helped on the regulation front by Trump.  Higher oil prices is also helping stocks, but oil continues to be under a dark cloud of too much oil.

Dow Jones Industrials

stock chart  

No comments: