The National Association of REALTORS® reported today that sales of Existing Homes rose by 2.4% from August until September to the highest level this year. Sales rose to 5.17 million units on an annualized basis and above the 5.11 million expected. Within the report it showed that cash sales made up 24% of all transactions and down from 33% last year this time. However, sales are down 1.7% from the 5.26 million units recorded in September of 2013.
Consumer spending for candy, costumes and decorations this October is setting up 2014 as the most ever spent for Halloween. Spending is set to hit $7.4 billion this year and is making it the second-fastest growing holiday for consumer spending. The National Retail Federation said that 43% of shoppers start Halloween shopping in the first two weeks of the month, while just under 25% wait until the last minute.
Fast food giant McDonald’s reported on Tuesday that third-quarter earnings were worse than expected as the world’s largest restaurant company struggles with sales in other parts of the globe. President and Chief Executive Don Thompson said that there was a significant decline in the numbers from the same period as last year due to a higher effective tax rate, unusual events in Europe and Asia, as well as under performance here in the U.S. McDonald’s reported a profit of $1.07 billion in the latest quarter compared with $1.52 billion a year earlier.
Bank earnings were abundant today with Citigroup, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo all reporting their quarterly numbers. Wells Fargo reported that revenues came in at $21.2 billion, above the $21.1 billion expected. JPMorgan reported a profit of $5.6 billion, a big surge from the $380 million in the same period last year, which was due to hefty legal bills. Lastly, Citigroup earned $1.15 per share, which was above the $1.12 expected.
The National Federation of Independent Business reported that its small business optimism index fell in September. Business owners are expecting an ease in profits and sales, a tightening in credit conditions, and are experiencing a harder time filling job openings with qualified candidates. The Index fell 0.8 points to 95.3, which is five points below where it was before the start of the Great Recession in late 2007.
The U.S. Stocks markets have lost some ground in the past few weeks. U.S. equities have lost almost $744 billion in values since October 8 due to slowing global growth concerns and as the Federal Reserve eases back on its latest stimulus program dubbed Quantitative Easing III (QE). The QE program was originally announced in November of 2008 to promote job and economic growth. The closely watched S&P 500 Stock Index has lost 6.3% since hitting its all-time closing high of 2,011 back on September 18, 2014.
The big gains in home prices in 2013 are coming back down to more normal levels as the final quarter of 2014 gets underway. CoreLogic, a leading global property information, analytics and data enabled services provider, reported on Tuesday that home prices, including distressed sales, rose by 6.45% from August 2013 to August 2014. A spokesperson from CoreLogic said, “continued moderation of home price appreciation is a welcomed sign of more balanced real estate markets and less pressure on affordability for potential home buyers in the near future.” The company went on to say that national home prices will rise 5.2% from August 2014 to August 2015.
The Labor Department reported its JOLTS report, Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey on Tuesday, and the numbers were mixed. The report examines the job market and collects information from employers in different industries. The data collected concerns hires, job openings, layoffs, separations and recruitments. In August there were 4.8 million job openings on the last business day, up from 4.6 million in July along with 4.6 million hires, down from 4.9 million in July.
The holiday shopping season in 2014 is expected to show some nice gains as the economy continues to recover. The National Retail Federation (NRF) said that consumer confidence is likely to pick up in November and December as consumers search for steep discounts. Sales are expected to rise by 4.1% this year, the highest increase since the 4.8% increase in 2011. Total sales for 2014 could rise to $616.9 billion.
The housing markets received some sour news today as sales for new home construction declined in August from July. The Commerce Department reported that New Home Sales fell by 14.4% last month to an annualized rate of 956,000 units, which was below the 1.117 million rate in July and below the 1.045 million expected. The sector continues to improve, but tight credit conditions coupled with a still higher than normal unemployment rate is constraining further gains. Single family homes declined by 2.4% while multi-family dwellings plunged nearly 32%.
Americans filing for unemployment benefits plunged in the latest week to the lowest levels since July, which could signal that the low amount of job creation in August could be just a one-off aberration. The Labor Department reported that Weekly Initial Jobless Claims fell by 36,000 in the latest week to 280,000, near a 14-year low, and well below the 305,000 expected. The four week moving average, which irons out any seasonal abnormalities, fell by 4,750 to 299,500. The data suggests that the jobs market continues to improve, and will be a key factor to the members of the Federal Reserve.
The improving U.S. economy and labor markets have caused the poverty rate to decrease significantly in 2013 for the first time since 2006, reported the Census Bureau. The U.S. poverty rate fell to 14.5% last year from 15% in 2012. The Latino population saw the biggest decline in the poverty rate with a 2.1% decline while median household income posted its first increase since 2000. Within the report it showed that those Americans with year-round full-time jobs increased by nearly 2.8 million to 105.8 million in 2013.
Americans across the nation opened their wallets in August spending their hard earned money on automobiles and a range of other goods, including back-to-school items. Retail Sales rose by 0.6% last month, above the 0.3% recorded in July, which was revised from 0.0%. The report signals that the economy continues to recover after the weak readings from the beginning of the year.
Consumer Sentiment hit a 14-month high this month, in a survey done by the University of Michigan showing a rate of 84.6, up from the previous reading of 82.5. The surveys gauge of consumer expectations rose to 75.6 from the 71.3 reading last month and above a forecast of 73.0. The uptick in Consumer Sentiment was one of the reasons for the rise in Retail Sales as consumers feel more confident about the economy.
The price for oil continues to fall after a ramp in supplies pushing the price to lows not seen in over a year. The recent drop has pushed prices at the gas pump lower as the national average price for a regular gallon of gasoline is at $3.41, down nearly 4% from this time last year. Prices usually fall this time of year after the summer driving season, but with the large supply of oil on the market, AAA predicts a 15 to 20 cent drop by Halloween. The drop in gas prices puts extra cash in the consumers pocket, which could be used on the upcoming shopping seasons.
Here is your Alpha Mortgage events calendar for the weekend of August 29th and upcoming events in the near future. These are events in and around the areas where you will find your neighborhood Alpha Mortgage. Whether you are a first time home buyer, refinancing, or need a friendly qualified mortgage specialist to answer your mortgage questions, you can count on Alpha Mortgage. Our offices are in Wilmington (910-256-8999), Fayetteville (910-484-7272), Jacksonville (910-347-7283), & New Bern (252-634-3000). We look forward to educating and empowering you!
Downtown Sundown Concert Series
Opening Band: The Hotliners
Headliner: Departure (Journey cover band)
Where: In front of old courthouse by the Cape Fear river (Riverwalk Park/5 N. Water St.
Time: Opening Act 6:00 pm
Click Here for the event website
The great weekly concert series is back and this weekend you have the opportunity to experience Departure, the best Journey cover band in the United States. In addition to seeing two great acts, you are also helping to support Oasis NC (click here to learn more) when you buy a charity band.
The Comedy Zone
Where: Orleans House
Time: 8 PM
Click Here for the event website.
Click Here for the Google map
Comedy has a home in Jacksonville and that’s at the Orleans House.
Each Saturday the Orleans House offers a two-act comedy show with a feature act and a nationally known headliner. Get your laugh on and come out this Saturday.
Friday – 8/30
Rogue Rollergirls vs. Cape Fear Rollergirls
Where: Crown Coliseum
Time: 7:00 PM
Cost: $10 ($12 day of), $6 kids 7-15 ($8 day of), $8 military ($10 day of), $5 military kids ($7 day of)
It’s the home town girls of Fayetteville vs. the ladies of the beach when these two power house roller derby teams collide in what is sure to be an epic match.
Where: Tryon Palace
Cost: $6 per adult, $3 per student; included with regular admission
Click Here for the event website
A reenactment of the famous duel between 1802 a prominent New Bern lawyer and a North Carolina former governor.
Crystal Coast (Morehead City, Atlantic Beach, Emerald Isle, Beaufort, & Newport)
Nantucket in concert
Where: Morehead Center for the Performing Arts
Time: 8 PM
The band born out of Jacksonville, N.C. became one of the top acts in the country with hits like “Heartbreaker” (1977), “She’s No Good” (1977), “Quite Like You” (1978), “Girl, You Blew a Good Thing” (1978), “Gimme Your Love” (1979), “Put Out or Get Out” (1979), “Hiding from Love” (1983)