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President Barack Obama is introduced during a town hall meeting at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Virginia, where he spoke about his vision for reducing the debt and bringing down the deficit, April 19, 2011.
US: The Dow
Jones Industrial Average rose to its highest level since June 2008 on Wednesday
after existing-home sales rose by more than forecast last month and encouraging
earnings from Tuesday boosted technology stocks higher.
The National Association of Realtors reported
today that existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include
single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 3.7% to a
seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.10m in March from an upwardly revised 4.92m
in February, but are 6.3% below the 5.44m pace in March 2010. Sales were at
elevated levels from March through June of 2010 in response to the home buyer
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, expects the improving sales pattern to
continue. “Existing-home sales have risen in six of the past eight months, so
we’re clearly on a recovery path,” he said. “With rising jobs and excellent
affordability conditions, we project moderate improvements into 2012, but not
every month will show a gain - - primarily because some buyers are finding it
too difficult to obtain a mortgage. For those fortunate enough to qualify for
financing, monthly mortgage payments as a% of income have been at record lows.”
NAR’s housing affordability index shows the typical monthly mortgage principal
and interest payment for the purchase of a median-priced existing home is only
13% of gross household income, the lowest since records began in 1970.
All-cash sales were at a record market share of
35% in March, up from 33% in February; they were 27% in March 2010. Investors
accounted for 22% of sales activity in March, up from 19% in February; they were
19% in March 2010. The balance of sales were to repeat buyers.
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $159,600 in
March, down 5.9% from March 2010. Distressed homes i.e. bank forces sales - -
typically sold at discounts in the vicinity of 20% - - accounted for a 40%
market share in March, up from 39% in February and 35% in March 2010.
Economic Recovery vs. Weak Wages: John Challenger, Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO, and Dan Greenhaus, Miller Tabak chief economic strategist, with analysis on where the economy in heading, despite stagnant wages and weak employment numbers:
Treasury today sold €3.37bn in a well received auction but at higher yields,
easing concerns of contagion from worries about a Greek debt restructuring.
Spain offered €2.5 to €3.5bn of the 5.50% April 2021 and 4.80% January 2024
The average yield on the 10-year bond rose to 5.472% from 5.162% at the last
auction on March 17 and it rose to 5.667% from 4.248% at the previous auction in
November 2009 for the January 2024 bonds.
Both bonds were sold in more than double the allotment at bid-to-cover ratios of
2.10 and 2.27.
In New York Wednesday, the Dow
jumped 185 points or 1.51% to 12,451.
The S&P 500 advanced 1.55% and
the Nasdaq rose 1.96%.