Economic News Week: January 9, 2012

Stocks rose last week kicking off the New Year on a high note. The Dow Jones industrial average added 1.2% and ended last Friday at 12359.92.   The S&P 500 rose 1.6% and the Nasdaq gained 2.7%. But the tone on Wall Street has been cautious and trading volumes have been low. Many investors have taken to the sidelines rather than commit to stocks. That could change in the coming weeks as U.S. companies begin to release fourth-quarter reports and corporate leaders discuss the outlook for 2012-all this from CNN’s Money Watch.


Another bit of good economic news is that Auto sales were up for 2011.  Auto sales remain an American economic booster when folks are ready to replace there old vehicles for newer ones. Auto sales do not happen when folks are  concerned about losing their jobs as they do not wish to take on increased debt.  So, an increase in sales means our economy is shifting gears for the better.


Local Economic, Real Estate, and Mortgage Industry News


“San Antonio is tops in small-business hiring report” was a headline in Saturday’s S.A. Express News.  A report from a national payroll services company showed that the San Antonio area increased hiring more than any other city in the U.S. last year.  Economists said the small-business job numbers that SurePayroll recorded for San Antonio reflect more growth than expected when the government finalizes overall job counts for 2011.


Home prices will rise and more people will be buying homes in the San Antonio area according to some speakers at the San Antonio Board of Realtors “Housing Forecast” last week.  A 1-2% increase in both sales volume and prices is expected.  “We’re not expecting any great boom”, said James Gaines, research economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M.  “But it beats the heck out of going down.” In another comic  commentary, Mr. Gaines also added, “this economy feels sort of like a long family car trip where the kids keep asking, “are we there yet?”  I think he is just about correct in his assumptions about the economy.  However, I will add that all other economic indicators are pointing to better times ahead f0r 2012.  Slowly but surely things are getting better.


Finally, The average rate on a 30 year fixed mortgage fell to 3.91% last week for a short period of time according to Freddie Mac.  That matches the record low reached just two weeks ago.  Again, I am hearing from some Realtors that business seems to be picking-up as compared to this time last year. I would agree.  Home refinance application have picked-up as well.  I guess people are noticing that mortgage rates are still at very attractive levels.  However, the really smart homebuyers have probably also heard that rates/costs are fixing to get higher as when Congress passed the recent tax payroll two month extension they added a cost to be added to home mortgages to help pay for it.  If you or somebody you know is going to be in the market for a home soon, let them know that they had better get a move on if they do not want to pay the extra!


Economic Data due this week:  Monday:  Consumer Credit Data released.   Tuesday:  Wholesale Trade Inventories for November.  Wednesday:  Beige Book released.  Thursday:  Weekly Jobless Claims Report.  Thursday:  Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates.  Friday: International Trade Data for November.