Economic Update 01/04/2016

HOUSEHOLDS MORE OPTIMISTIC AS 2016 APPROACHES

In December, consumer confidence increased. The Conference Board’s respected index posted a reading of 96.5 in the last month of the year, 3.9 points above its revised November mark. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com expected a reading of just 93.5.

PENDING HOME SALES INDEX FALLS

The National Association of Realtors reported a 0.9% decrease in housing contract activity in November, in contrast to the 0.5% improvement that economists contacted by the Wall Street Journal had expected. Pending home sales were still up 2.7% annually through November, despite declining for three of the past four months.

HOME PRICES ADVANCE 5.5% YEAR-OVER-YEAR

This annualized gain in the latest (October) edition of the 20-city S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index is the largest recorded since August 2014. Through October, the Case-Shiller had risen 36.4% from its March 2012 low.

S&P 500 POSTS SMALL LOSS FOR 2015

At the close on December 31, the broad benchmark settled at 2,043.94, going -0.21% for the shortened trading week and -0.73% for the year. The Dow ended 2015 at 17,425.03, going -0.18% for the week and -2.23% year-over-year. Of the three major U.S. indices, only the NASDAQ had a positive 2015; after a -0.20% weekly descent to a December 31 close of 5,007.41, its yearly performance was still strongly in the plus column at +5.73%. Oil ended the year at $37.04 on the NYMEX, posting a 30.5% 2015 loss; gold ended 2015 at $1,060.20 on the COMEX, down 10.5% for the year.

THIS WEEK: ISM’s December manufacturing PMI appears Monday, and markets will also react to China’s latest factory PMI readings. Sonic and SuperValu present earnings on Tuesday. Wall Street will scrutinize the minutes from the December Federal Reserve policy meeting on Wednesday, as well as the December ADP employment change report, the December ISM non-manufacturing PMI and earnings from Monsanto. The December Challenger job-cut report arrives on Thursday, plus new initial claims figures and earnings from Barracuda Networks, Bed Bath & Beyond, Constellation Brands, The Container Store, KB Home, PriceSmart, Ruby Tuesday, WD-40, and Walgreens Boots Alliance. Investors will consider the Labor Department’s December jobs report on Friday.

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