Wednesday, 27 February 2019

US housing data weak, sub-prime mortgages “still dangerous”

Markets were mixed on Tuesday.

The S&P 500 slipped less than 0.1 percent and the Nikkei 225 fell 0.4 percent but the STOXX Europe 600 rose 0.4 percent.

In testimony before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that “some [economic] data have softened” of late but “the job market remains strong”.

Among US economic reports released on Tuesday, the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index jumped to 131.4 in February from 121.7 in January.

However, housing data were weak. The number of new homes under construction fell to an annual rate of 1.08 million in December from 1.21 million rate in November while home price growth according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller US National Home Price Index slowed to 4.7 percent in December from 5.1 percent in November.

While US housing stocks took a knock from those data on Tuesday, they have actually been doing very well so far in 2019.

Still, real-estate analyst Keith Jurow warned that bubble-era home mortgages are a disaster waiting to happen.

Jurow wrote that sub-prime mortgages that had fed the housing bubble that blew up in 2007 “are still dangerous and could soon undermine the housing recovery”.

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