Foreclosures fell 5.6% from November to December
CoreLogic, a leading global property information, analytics and data-enabled provider, reported on Tuesday that completed foreclosures fell 5.6% from November to December and are down 22.6% compared to December 2014. In addition, foreclosure inventories fell nearly 24% from December 2014 to December 2015. There were 32,000 completed foreclosures in December 2015, down 72.8% from the peak of 117,722 in September 2010. Fed Chair Janet Yellen will be on Capitol Hill for her two-day semi-annual monetary policy testimony beginning tomorrow in front of the House and on Thursday in front of the Senate. Inventors will be closely monitoring Ms. Yellen's testimony for any signs of future interest policy changes. Given the recent mediocre economic reports, chances of any interest rate hikes are dwindling and there could be no change at the March meeting.
Small business optimism declined in December after a modest gain in November. The National Federation of Independent Business reported that its Index of Small Business Optimism Index fell 1.3 points in January from December. The decline was due in part to weakening business conditions and expected real sales volumes. In addition, more owners reported sales trending down than trending up quarter on quarter and profit trends worsened a bit.
Americans boosted their savings rate to the highest levels
Americans boosted their savings rate to the highest levels since December 2012 as people grew cautious in the last few months of 2015. The national savings rate rose by 5.5% of after tax income in December. Personal Incomes were up 0.3%, while Personal Spending was unchanged. Within the report it showed that the Fed's favorite inflation gauge, the Core Personal Consumption Expenditure, was up 1.4% year-over-year, below the Fed's target range of 2%.
Economic activity contracted in the manufacturing sector for the third straight month in January due in part to the decline in oil and oil related products. The ISM Manufacturing Index fell to 48.2 this month, in line with estimates. Readings below 50 signals contraction. Within the report it showed that the new orders index increased, while the employment component declined. Of the 18 manufacturing industries, eight reported growth in January.
On the lighter side, with the Super Bowl fast approaching this weekend, Americans are expected to spend a record $15.5 billion on item's related to this year's game. The average consumer is expected to spend $82.19 on the game, according to a survey of more than 7,000 consumers by the National Retail Federation. There are expected to be about 113.4 billion football fans planning to attend or host a Super Bowl Party. with food and beverage spending accounting for a big chunk of spending. It is expected that 1.3 billion chicken wings will be consumed, along with 325 million gallons of beer to wash down the wings. This coming Sunday the Denver Broncos will take on the Carolina Panthers with the game starting at 6:30 on CBS.
5 million borrowers could qualify and benefit from a mortgage refinance
Black Knight Financial Services reported on Monday that 5 million borrowers could qualify and benefit from a mortgage refinance. With mortgage rates just below 4%, 2.4 million borrowers could save $200 or more each month on their mortgage payments and an additional 1.9 million could save $100 to $200 per month. That still leaves about $1.2 billion on the table. If mortgage rates rise, many of those who could have refinanced at current levels will no longer be able to refinance and save some big money. The bottom line: Now is the time to refinance before mortgage rates push higher. Call us today at 844-545-9251 for more info.
U.S. Stock markets experienced their worst start to a new year on record for both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500. The Dow saw a 6.2% loss, while the S&P 500 fell by 6%. Fears of a slowdown in the world's second largest economy, China, along with the December Jobs Report, that saw little wage growth and many low paying jobs, fueled the sell-off. Stock investors are looking for a rebound this week as corporate earnings season kicks off and as the harsh economic headlines out of China recede.
Oil prices continue to edge lower in trading at the NYMEX in lower Manhattan, New York. The price for West Texas Intermediate fell to a 12-year low of $31.65/barrel due to a glut of oil flowing through the pipes and a stronger dollar. Some analysts believe that the price could break into the $20s in the next few months. The decline has pushed the national average price for a regular gallon of gasoline to $1.96, down from $2.01 a month ago and below the $2.13 seen a year ago.
Employers added 292,000 new workers
The Labor Department reported on Friday that employers added 292,000 new workers in December, well above the 200,000 expected, while October and November were revised higher by 50,000. It was the fifth straight year in which employment grew by at least 2 million. Professional and business services added 73,000 positions in December, of which 34,000 were temporary holiday positions. In addition, construction added 45,000, health care 39,000, restaurants and bars 37,000, while warehousing added 23,000.
Wage gains were muted in December at 0.0%, while year-over-year wage growth was a more encouraging 2.5%. Wage growth has been tepid compared to before the 2007 to 2009 recession, but it has been trending higher in the past year. As far as the Unemployment Rate, it remained at 5% and is down from 10% back in 2009, but 2.6% of the decline is due to Americans falling out of the workforce.
History is being made in the Stock markets to begin 2016. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen 5% in the first four trading days of the year, which is the worst percentage loss to begin a year since 1897, when the index was first introduced. The closely watched S&P 500 Stock Index has lost nearly 5%, its worst start on record and has lost $864 billion of its value.