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Registered Investment Adviser Caleb Lawrence

The major averages struggled to maintain their early gains on disappointing data and the growing political scandal between the White House and the FBI.

Mortgage activity jumped 4.5% last week as per the Mortgage Bankers Association or MBA. Purchase apps increased 6.1%, refi’s advanced .9%, the 30-year contract rate for a jumbo loan increased again, hitting 4.31%.

Existing home sales missed expectations in December falling 3.6% to 5.57 million units annualized. All regions declined with notable drops in the Northeast and Midwest. Month’s supply fell to just 3.2 while the median price slipped fractionally to $246,800. For all of 2017 sales increased 1.1% to reach an 11-year high.

While the irrational exuberance surrounding the crypto currencies continues, questions about their usefulness as currencies due to excessive volatility, complicated and expensive transaction processing and account security have led the first major company to support Bitcoin payments for purchases to reverse its stance on the subject. After Stripe a company that facilitates financial transactions for business withdrew support noting that it was a tradeable asset class, not a currency substitute. For the record the regulators classified Bitcoin as a commodity.

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