January 2013

Found 11 blog entries for January 2013.

GOOD VIBRATIONS... Good feelings left over from the prior week's fiscal cliff settlement in Washington kept investors in a positive mood last week, as evidenced by all three major market indexes still heading up and the S&P 500 near a five-year high. It's no secret that there will be more political fights coming over the spending cuts that didn't happen and the raising of the debt ceiling, which present spending levels will soon be knocking on. For the moment, Wall Street is content to stay upbeat, hoping that earnings season will get 2013 off to a decent start.

Fourth quarter earnings reports will begin in earnest this week, but they started off quite nicely last Wednesday, when Alcoa disclosed top line revenues that beat estimates. Friday's news revealed
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INFO THAT HITS US WHERE WE LIVE... That's a good thought as we watch the housing market, once doomed to failure, turn into a more successful enterprise. A national online real estate site surveyed more than 100 professional forecasters -- economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists. They see growing optimism in the housing market, expecting home prices to rise 3.1% in 2013, after ending 2012 UP more than 4.6%. The site's chief economist commented, "An organic recovery in the housing market really took hold in the latter half of 2012."

He added: "Record levels of affordability and an improving overall economic picture... have us well positioned for continued growth, albeit slightly slower, in 2013 and beyond." Case-Shiller's chief…
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WHAT A RELIEF... Last Tuesday, with the country poised to go over a fiscal cliff of major tax hikes and spending cuts, Congress averted it by passing budget legislation the President agreed to sign. They raised taxes on a small portion of wealthy Americans and extended unemployment benefits, and the fact they came to any agreement set off a humongous relief rally on Wall Street. The S&P 500 index closed Friday at a five-year high, enjoying its largest weekly percent gain in more than a year. But spending cuts weren't addressed, so there'll be more political wrangling on that and the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling limit we'll soon reach.

All was not upbeat as stocks fell Thursday after the minutes from the Fed's December meeting revealed some officials want to

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Market Updates Where We Live... Our leaders in Washington aren't telling if they've truly resolved to put our fiscal house in order, but at least last week's deal to avert the fiscal cliff left housing a winner on most issues. First, they extended mortgage forgiveness debt relief through 2013. If they hadn't done this, principal balances written off by lenders to help homeowners with underwater mortgages would have been treated as ordinary taxable income. The bill also re-established the deduction for mortgage insurance premiums for 2012 and 2013 for people with adjusted gross income below $110,000.

In addition, the compromise offers tax credits to homeowners making energy-efficient home improvements in 2012 and 2013. Builders get a tax credit on new

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CLIFFHANGER... Investors on Wall Street were certainly left in suspense by Washington politicians trying to avoid both reality and their responsibilities, as they continued to fall short of coming to agreement on how to prevent the economy from going over a fiscal cliff come Tuesday. The uncertainty drove investors out of riskier stocks, sending all three major market indexes down for the week. The fear is that the fiscal cliff's mandated tax increases and spending cuts could send the economy back into recession.

The markets paid so much attention to statements coming out of Washington, the economic data seemed to have little impact. The Richmond Fed index of manufacturing sentiment in the mid-Atlantic region registered a +5 for December, down from +9 in…
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INFO THAT HITS US WHERE WE LIVE... If you need some encouragement to follow the advice of the inventor of the automobile starter motor, look to last week's November New Home Sales, UP 4.4% to a 377,000 annual rate, and now UP 15.3% versus a year ago. The new home median price of $246,000 is UP 14.9% over a year ago. And the months' supply of new homes is now down to 4.7, equal to the lowest level since 2005. Economists say new home sales are usually the last part of the housing market to recover, so this is truly encouraging news.

Slightly less encouraging was the S&P Case-Shiller Index, which had October home prices falling for the month in 12 of the 20 cities tracked. But the index still showed a 4.3% gain for the year. The Chairman of the S&P Index…
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