Economic News Week: March 26, 2012

U.S. stocks rose on Friday and ended up closing at 13080.73. Despite slowing economic news from China, U.S. stocks were able to hold their own.  So  yes, it really does matter what the price of “something” is in China.  What happens economically over-seas doesn’t always stay over-seas as we might wish sometimes.  Yet, our U.S. economy is still on a positive roll.  However, Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke said the slow recovery from the Great Recession and 2008 financial crisis illustrates how vulnerable the global economy is.  He urged economic policy makers to learn from that lesson.  Mr. Bernanke also reassured a congressional panel that U.S. banks could withstand shocks from Europe, even if the debt crisis there significantly worsened.  The Conference Board says its index of leading economic indicators rose 7 percent in February, after just a .02 percent increase in January-which is  more welcomed news for our U.S. economy.


Real Estate, Mortgage Industry, and Other Economic News

 Business is  growing  again at Stinson Municipal Airport in South San Antonio.  Mainly because of improving economic activity in the Southside and spinoff activity from energy production in the nearby Eagle Ford Shale.  In  San Antonio/Austin- it seems that there a jobs being offered all around.  The problem facing some employers is that there are not enough “trained” applicants.  Especially in the manufacturing sector.   Go figure, more jobs than applicants,  that’s a problem other state’s wished they had.  San Antonio has been ranked the #3 Metro city for jobs in a recent study.  Austin was ranked #1.


San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro is asking for approval of an 1/8th of a cent sales tax to bolster aid for children to attend pre-kinder classes for public schools.  He gets it.  You cannot have a thriving economy if your children are not educated or trained.  Studies have shown that children who attend pre-kinder have a better chance of succeeding at higher grade levels and eventually graduating high school and college.

“Home re-sales post best winter in years”, was a mini headline in the S.A. Express News this past Thursday.  The report stated that U.S. home sales are gradually coming back.  A mild winter and stronger job markets have helped boost sales ahead of the crucial spring buying season.  The past two months made up the best winter for sales of previously occupied homes in five years, when the housing crisis began.  The sales pace in January was the highest since May 2010, the last month that buyers could qualify for a federal home-buying tax credit.  February’s sales dipped slightly to a seasonally adjusted 4.59 million, the National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday.  Still, that’s 13 percent higher than the sales pace just this past July.


New Home builders requested 5 percent more permits in February to build single-family homes and apartments in the coming months. That increased the annual rate to a seasonally adjusted 717,000 permits, the Commerce department said on Tuesday.  It’s the highest level since October 2008. The rise in permits suggests builders see that interest translating into sales over the next 12 months which is how long it typically takes to build a home after a permit is obtained.


Mortgage rates jumped to 4.08 percent, up from 3.92 percent just a week ago, according to Freddie Mac.  There was an article in this past weekend’s Wall Street Journal that says that it might just be time for homeowners to “pull the trigger” on a deal if they are wanting to refinance their current homes.  The article continued to state that while rates are below where they were a year ago, some economists say they are likely to keep rising throughout 2012 and into 2013. That means that your window of opportunity to lock in a rock-bottom rate might be closing soon. “If you’re considering refinancing, there’s really no point in waiting,” says Frank Nothaft, the chief economist at Freddie Mac.  I would include homebuyers as well.  There is no time like the present to buy a home while inventories and rates are at their best in years.


Have you been touring the Texas Hill Country and observing the Texas Bluebonnets along the highways and farm to market roads?  If you haven’t, you still have plenty of time.  But don’t miss out.  I have been out and about and can tell you it is worth the trip.  I hear that the Bluebonnets are beautiful along IH 10 to Houston.  However, I have not driven the Willow City Loop yet (Fredericksburg, TX  area) but, plan to do so very soon.

Economic Data due this week:  Consumer gas prices are weighing heavily on consumer’s minds- and pocket books.  The High Court will hear arguments from both sides this week regarding the Healthcare Reform Act.   Monday– Pending Home Sales.  Tuesday:  Consumer Confidence report.  Wednesday:  Durable Goods Report.  Thursday:  Weekly Jobless Claims.  Thursday:  Gross Domestic Product Report (GDP).  Friday:  PCE Index.  Friday:  Personal Income and Spending reports.  Friday:  Consumer Sentiment.