Data Watching 05-20-15

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, housing starts in April jumped to the fastest annual rate (1.14 million) since November of 2007. After the abnormally cold winter, it appears construction activity is picking up. Currently, the housing market holds a below-normal, 4.6 months of inventory—6 months is considered healthy and balanced—and that likely encouraged the homebuilders to gear up for demand. The number of permits approved also climbed nicely, by 10.1 percent. Read more about Data Watching 05-20-15

Waiting for Direction after the Strong Friday Rally 05-12-15

The employment story in April 2015 has remained largely static, with no major changes on either end of the spectrum. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 223,000, reducing the unemployment rate a hair to 5.4 percent, or 8.5 million.  Over the last twelve months, unemployment has declined by 0.8 percentage point, or 1.1 million people. Read more about Waiting for Direction after the Strong Friday Rally 05-12-15

Service Sector Looking Up 05-05-15

Stocks are taking a bit of a breather today, but the news of late has generally been supportive of shares.

Opportunities in a Tepid Economy 04-28-15

Stocks clawed their way to new highs in recent sessions. Most notably, the Nasdaq Composite finally erased all of its losses dating to the dot-com bubble days 15 years ago. The advance, while technically positive and suggestive that stocks could make further gains in the near term, has not looked unequivocally bullish, as the relative strength of the broad market has started to wane. We’ll give stocks the benefit of the doubt for now, but see no compelling reason to be long stocks as a short-term trade. 

Gearing Up for Greater Volatility 04-21-15

After a long absence, it looks like volatility has begun to creep back into the stock market, albeit modestly so. Shares came under pressure on Friday on concerns that China’s stock market may be coming off the rails and Greece could be headed for bankruptcy. Weakness in Shanghai and Hong Kong spilled over into other exchanges, including our own, where blue chip shares declined by more than a full percentage point. Yesterday, stocks recouped much of their prior trading session losses. 

Positive News and Prospects 04-14-15

Last week we discussed how the U.S. economy, though weak, was not running out of gas. Today we had encouraging news in the form of a 0.9 percent increase in March retail sales. Though that was slightly below expectations, it was the first increase in the past four months and the biggest gain in a year, suggesting that consumers may finally be spending rather than saving the extra cash lining their pockets stemming from cheaper fuel prices. Encouragingly, autos, which are a big-ticket item, were particularly strong and also point to increased consumer confidence. Read more about Positive News and Prospects 04-14-15