Saturday, 18 November 2006

Is the US housing market bottoming yet?

The latest data reported by Reuters suggests not.

New home starts dropped 14.6 percent to their lowest level in more than six years in October and building permits fell 6.3 percent, according to the Commerce Department.

Data earlier this week had been more optimistic.

... The National Association of Homebuilders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index on Thursday got a two-point bump to 33 points in November...

On Wednesday, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that applications for U.S. home mortgages rose last week to their highest level since January as falling interest rates encouraged more loan refinancing.

Perhaps that is why Rodrigo Rato, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, is still warning of inflation risks. Reuters reports:

"We see a need for central bankers, not only in industrialized countries but certainly in emerging ones, to be extremely vigilant on inflationary pressures," Rato told a briefing ahead of a two-day G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank chiefs.

Rato said he sees no sign that oil prices will fall any time soon and the scope for excess production capacity in the world economy is becoming more limited.

Oil markets apparently think otherwise.

Oil fell on Friday to the lowest level since June 2005 amid fund selling across commodity markets and worries of an economic slowdown in the United States.

High U.S. oil inventories heading into winter and selling pressure ahead of the expiry of the front-month U.S. crude contract at the close of trading fueled the selling.

The expiring December U.S. crude contract settled down 45 cents at $55.81 a barrel, the lowest settlement price since June 15, 2005. The price of oil has fallen nearly 30 percent from the record high of $78.40 in July.

London Brent crude for January delivery settled up 45 cents at $58.99...

Base metals also slid on concern that global demand for raw materials would suffer if the world's largest economy slows. London copper prices fell to their lowest levels since June.

1 comment:

Gem Hudson said...

When the people do not have the money to spend, what were we making is now made over there in China but to keep on keeping on spending from what we are no longer making all that much of the money is really inflating what we still do not have.

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