A MAJOR GAIN FOR A CONSUMER CONFIDENCE INDEX
The Conference Board’s monthly gauge of consumer confidence came in at 78.1 for December, beating the 76.0 median forecast from economists polled by Bloomberg. In November, it stood at 72.0. The index is way up from where it once was: its average reading was just 53.7 during the 2007-09 recession.
HOME PRICES, HOME SALES CONTRACTS INCREASE
While existing home sales have fallen in recent months, the National Association of Realtors offered some positive news last week – pending home sales increased 0.2% in November, a contrast to October’s 1.2% retreat. The October S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index showed a 13.6% yearly gain in property prices measured across 20 cities, improved 0.3% from the September edition; that is the best annual gain the Case-Shiller index has recorded since February 2006.
FACTORIES HUM IN DECEMBER
December’s manufacturing PMI from the Institute for Supply Management offered a reading of 57.0 – down from 57.3% in November, but still a mark of solid expansion in the factory sector. Analysts polled by MarketWatch expected the index to decline to 56.6.
BULLS TAKE A BREATHER AS 2014 BEGINS
Speaking in Philadelphia Friday, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke asserted that the economy has made “considerable progress”, and that there are “grounds for cautious optimism abroad.” His remarks didn’t give stocks much of a lift to end the week. From December 30-January 3, the S&P 500 lost 0.54%, the Dow 0.05% and the Nasdaq 0.59%. The closing prices Friday: Dow, 16,469.99; Nasdaq, 4,131.91; S&P, 1,831.37.
THIS WEEK: On Monday, ISM’s December service sector index and the Census Bureau’s report on December factory orders arrive, and the Senate is expected to approve Janet Yellen’s appointment as Fed chair. Tuesday offers earnings from The Container Store, Apollo Group and Micron. The minutes from the December 17-18 Fed policy meeting will be released on Wednesday, along with the December ADP job-change report and earnings from Family Dollar, Ruby Tuesday, Monsanto and Constellation Brands. Thursday brings December’s Challenger job-cut report, the latest round of initial jobless claims, and earnings news from Supervalu, Alcoa, Texas Industries and PriceSmart. The Labor Department publishes its December employment report on Friday.