The Market Bull – February 26, 2019
The major averages close with small losses on largely disappointing data following choppy early trade.
Construction activity continues to slip as it has done since last spring. Housing starts fell 11.2% in December to 1.078 million units annualized on significant weakness in multi-family starts. Permits gained .3% to 1.326 million units annualized. For 2018 starts fell a significant 10.9% below the 2017 total.
At the regional level only the Northeast showed any real strength, level in December and 21.6% higher than a year ago. Starts in the Midwest fell 13.2% in December and are down by 26.5% from December 2017. Starts in the South fell 6% in December but are still up by 6.1% from December 2017. Starts in the West fell 18.5% in December and are down by a full 33% from December 2017.
The Richmond Fed regional index beat expectations in February with an 18-point gain to 16 on strength in new orders, employment was mixed.
Price data disappointed with prices paid rising faster than prices received as producers struggle to pass on higher costs from tariffs to consumers.
One of many discussions being studiously avoided by the lamestream media and what passes for political leadership in this country is the culture of the financial system, or as I have been saying for years the “lie, cheat and steal” business model exemplified by big finance. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, not one to shy away from a tough subject, recently opined that he was gravely concerned about the current culture of the financial system, banking in particular and its obsession with profits at the expense of everything else. Something exemplified by its trail of malfeasance and regulatory actions, amongst other items, in the last 40-years or so. Paul Volcker is one of the precious few calling for greater and stronger oversight of the financial sector, whilst warning about the power of lobbyists to subvert sound banking and financial oversight.
Standard and Poors 500 Index closed at: 2,793.90 down 2.21
NASDAQ finished the day: 7,549.30 down 5.16
Gold ended trading at: $1,331.20 up $1.70