Georgia home prices were essentially flat in October from a month earlier, but are still off significantly from the same period last year, according to a report issued Tuesday.
According to the Standard & Poors/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, the price of a home in Atlanta declined 0.2 percent following monthly rebounds in price over the summer months. Still, prices overall are off 8.1 percent from October 2008, though that figure has narrowed.
The report comes a week after the National Association of Realtors said the sales prices of existing homes in November rose 2.4 percent from the same period last year.
Sales volume was up 33 percent over November 2008, one of the deepest months in the recession, according to the NAR report.
"The turn-around in home prices seen in the Spring and Summer has faded with only seven of the 20 cities seeing month-to-month gains, although all 20 continue to show improvements on a year-over-year basis. All in all, this report should be described as flat," David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor's, said in a statement.
The annual rate of decline has also improved nationally, and is the ninth straight month of improvement. The 10-city and 20-city composite indices were down 6.4 percent and 7.3 percent, respectively, for October.
Then national price was flat in October compared to September.
Denver was the healthiest market among the 20 cities, posting a 0.1 percent drop in home prices. The decline was 0.6 percent in Dallas, the next-healthiest market, according to the monthly survey.
Las Vegas remained the weakest market among the 20 cities, with a drop of 26.6 percent. It was followed by Phoenix, which saw a price decline of 18.1 percent.
The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index tracks sales prices of typical single-family homes in leading metropolitan areas.
The St. Louis Council of Construction Consumers gave a Best Practice Award for the renovation of the historic Woolworth Building in midtown St. Louis.
The $8 million renovation project was completed last year. Involved in the project were McCormack Baron Salazar, S.M. Wilson, Trivers Associates, Christner, Fox Architects, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Craft Alliance and Grand Center.
In addition, the council gave the following Best Practice Awards for:
— Design effectiveness for the Ameren Training Center in St. Louis. Recipients were AmerenUE, Burns & McDonnell, and Kozeny-Wagner.
— Pre-project planning for BJC St. Peters Hospital. BJC, BJC St. Peters, Pratt Design, Tarlton, Murphy, Sachs, KJWW, and LEAN Project Consulting payday loans for people with bad credit.
— Partnering for the SSM St. Clare Health Center at Fenton. SSM, Alberici, and HGA.
The council also presented the Construction Industry Safety Excellence Award to Nooter Construction.
Finally, the council presented the following Diversity awards:
— Organization of the Year to Metropolitan Sewer District.
— Minority/Woman Business to BAM Contracting.
— Diversity Champions. Deborah Henry of St. Louis Community College, and Scott Wilson of S.M. Wilson.
New Zealand’s economy grew less than economists estimated in the third quarter, driving the nation’s currency to a three-month low on speculation the central bank may not need to raise interest rates until mid-2010.
Gross domestic product rose 0.2 percent from the previous quarter, Statistics New Zealand said in Wellington today. That was half the median forecast of a 0.4 percent gain in a Bloomberg survey of 12 economists.
A decline in construction, manufacturing and business investment hobbled New Zealand’s recovery from its worst recession in 30 years. Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard said this month the bank may raise the benchmark interest rate from a record low sooner than he previously indicated should the economic rebound be sustained.
“The recovery is in train, but has been off to a subdued start,” said Khoon Goh, senior markets economist at ANZ National Bank Ltd. in Wellington. The data doesn’t “warrant hiking rates as early as March. We see June 2010 as the central case for when the tightening cycle starts.”
New Zealand’s dollar dropped to 69.75 U.S. cents, the lowest since Sept. 14, from 70.20 cents before the report was released. It bought 69.91 cents at 6:30 p.m. in Wellington. The currency had climbed 12 percent against the U.S. dollar the past six months and the NZX 50 stock index gained 14 percent on signs of a pickup in the economy.
Swaps traders are betting that the Reserve Bank of New Zealand will increase the benchmark rate by 203 basis points over the next 12 months, according to a Credit Suisse index.
“The recovery remains fragile,” Finance Minister Bill English said today. “To climb back up the world income ladder and to replace jobs lost during the recession, we need businesses to have the confidence to invest and create jobs.”
Central bankers around the world are assessing when to remove stimulus as the global recession abates. Australia and Norway have started raising rates and the Federal Reserve has committed to scale down buying of mortgage-backed debt.
Europe’s economy emerged from its worst slump in more than six decades, growing 0.4 percent in the third quarter from the previous three months. The U.S. economy grew at a revised 2.2 percent annual pace last quarter. Australia’s economy expanded in the three months through September for a third straight quarter.
New Zealand’s central bank may begin to “remove monetary stimulus around the middle of 2010,” Bollard said on Dec. 10. In October, the governor said the nation’s benchmark interest rate would be kept on hold until the second half of next year.
The economy shrank 1.3 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, today’s report showed. That compared with a 1.2 percent contraction estimated by economists.
“The central bank needs strong data in order to bring forward its tightening cycle to the same degree as the market has priced in,” said Stephen Toplis, head of research at Bank of New Zealand Ltd. in Wellington. “Is this the sort of data that would shift the Reserve Bank from its published view? You’d have to say no.”
Business investment fell 0.9 percent, the fifth straight decline, as companies spent less on plant and machinery, today’s report showed. Manufacturing dropped 1.9 percent and construction declined 4.4 percent.
Bridgestone Corp., the world’s largest tiremaker by sales, said in October it would close a plant in Christchurch, New Zealand, by the end of the year because of lower cost competitiveness.
Fisher & Paykel Appliances Holdings Ltd., the country’s biggest manufacturer of washers and dryers, said sales in the three months ended Sept. 30 fell 11 percent from a year earlier. Sales are likely to remain flat for the rest of the fiscal year, Chief Executive Officer Stuart Broadhurst said Nov. 27.
Smiths City Group Ltd. yesterday said sales at its furniture and appliance stores dropped 6.2 percent in the six months ended Oct. 31. “The retail environment has continued to be very tough and in big ticket, the worst for 20 years,” Chairman Craig Boyce said.
Warehouse Group Ltd., the nation’s biggest discount retailer, last month said sales were below expectations in the three months ended Nov. 1.
Household spending, which makes up 60 percent of the economy, rose 0.8 percent in the third quarter. Sales of cars, home appliances and other so-called durable goods gained 2 percent. Purchases of food and non-durable items fell.
Exports of goods and services were unchanged in the third quarter as increased spending by tourists offset a decline in commodity exports including meat and seafood.
The GDP deflator, a measure of prices, rose 2 percent in the year ended Sept. 30.
“GDP growth is showing little upward momentum from one quarter to the next,” said Ian Pollick, economics strategist at TD Securities in Toronto. “From a monetary policy perspective, this particular report is unlikely to light a fire under the RBNZ.”
A blizzard paralyzed the region Saturday, putting a serious dent in a weekend that was supposed to be filled with holiday events and lots of shopping.
The storm started dumping snow quickly after 10 p.m. Friday, just as the last of the last-minute shoppers left supermarkets, malls and shopping centers across the region.
Ritchie Highway in Glen Burnie was nearly impenetrable as shoppers rushed in to the many shopping centers along the road to buy what they needed for a weekend stuck in the house. The usual toilet paper, bread and milk shared space in the car with Christmas tree and greens bought at the highway’s many tree lots.
By Saturday morning, most people were staying off the road and the cancellations kept pouring in. So far, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Spectacular, a musical review known for its dancing Santas, was still on. The BSO’s Web site said it wasn’t making a decision until 11 a.m. on whether to cancel Saturday’s shows personal loan for poor credit. The Ravens didn’t wait long to make a change, announcing Friday the football game had been moved from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
But many retailers weren't about to change their plans despite the storm. This is the busiest weekend of the year for the Sound Garden in Fells Point. The music store was open early Saturday and already had customers milling about its aisles before 10 a.m.
Manager Alex Ashkenes send customers an e-mail telling them the parking lots was plowed and Thames Street was clear. He encouraged shoppers to support local independent businesses.
Reached by phone, Ashkenes was optimistic about the day. He would remain open as long as the weather didn't get too treacherous.
"There are people walking about in Fells Point," he said. "I expect the other stores to open."
Greece sold 2 billion euros ($2.9 billion) of floating-rate notes privately to banks, eight days after Fitch Ratings downgraded the nation’s debt as the government struggles to cut the European Union’s largest budget deficit, two bankers familiar with the transaction said.
The securities, which mature in February 2015, will yield 250 basis points, or 2.5 percentage points, more than the six- month euro interbank offered rate, or Euribor, they said. That’s 30 basis points higher than a similar-maturity Greek fixed-rate bond when converted into a floating rate of interest, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Greek bonds have fallen in the past week, with two-year note yields rising by the most in more than a decade on Dec. 8, when Fitch cut the nation’s credit rating to BBB+, the lowest in the euro region, citing the “vulnerability” of the nation’s finances. Prime Minister George Papandreou has been unable to convince investors he can reduce a deficit the government says will rise to 12.7 percent of gross domestic product this year, after the economy shrank 1.7 percent in the third quarter.
“Selling bonds via a private placement can be a double- edged sword at this point,” said Luca Cazzulani, a fixed-income strategist in Milan at UniCredit Markets & Investment Banking. “On the one hand, it shows that Greece can always find buyers for their bonds. But the market might take it as a sign that they only have this channel left.”
Greek bonds rose snapped two days of declines today, with the yield on the 10-year note dropping 11 basis points to 5.62 percent as of 10:26 a.m. in London. It rose as much as 29 basis points yesterday to 5.76 percent, the highest since April 3.
Concern some countries may struggle to pay their debt was reignited after Dubai’s state-owned Dubai World said on Dec. 1 it wanted to restructure $26 billion of debt. The premium, or spread, investors demand to hold Greek 10-year bonds instead of German bunds, Europe’s benchmark government securities, rose as high as 250 basis points yesterday, the highest closing level since April 2. It narrowed to 239 basis points today guaranteed payday loans.
The participating banks in yesterday’s private placement were National Bank of Greece SA, Alpha Bank AE, EFG Eurobank Ergasias SA, Piraeus Bank SA and Banca IMI SpA, the bankers familiar with the transaction said. Italy’s Banca IMI was the only foreign-based in the group.
The government paid “generous” terms, said Wilson Chin, a fixed-income strategist in Amsterdam at ING Groep NV.
“I guess you have to pay some liquidity premium, given the sale was done at the end of the year,” he said. “I would be very surprised if they continue to use this method into the first quarter of next year. That would probably be taken as a sign the market isn’t working for them.”
Greek bonds are the worst performers after Ireland among the debt of so-called peripheral euro-region countries this year, handing investors a 3.5 percent return, according to Bloomberg/EFFAS indexes.
In a private placement, issuers offer securities directly to chosen private investors as opposed to selling them through an auction or via a group of banks.
Papandreou pledged in a speech two days ago to begin reducing the nation’s debt, set to exceed 100 percent of GDP this year, from 2012. The European Commission estimates the ratio at 112.6 percent of GDP this year, second only to Italy.
“In the next three months we will take those decisions which weren’t taken for decades,” Papandreou said in Athens. He said many choices will be “painful,” though he promised to protect poorer and middle-income Greeks.
Credit-default swaps on Greece rose 1 basis point to 238.5, according to CMA DataVision, after surging 25.5 basis points yesterday. Such swaps pay the buyer face value in exchange for the underlying securities or the cash equivalent should an issuer fail to adhere to its debt agreements. A basis point on a contract protecting $10 million of debt from default for five years is equivalent to $1,000 a year.
Retail sales jumped 1.3% in November, according to the Commerce Department, well more than the expected increase.
Economists had expected retail sales to rise 0.6% from October, according to a consensus of forecasts compiled by Briefing.com.
The seasonally adjusted November increase represents $352.1 billion worth of monthly sales. This is slightly less than the October increase, when retail sales jumped 1.4% month-to-month.
Automobile sales had little to do with November’s gains. Without including autos, retail sales rose 1.2% last month.
A consensus of economists had projected ex-auto sales to rise 0.4% in November, compared to October, when ex-auto sales notched up 0.2%.
The year-to-year increase was more dramatic No teletrak payday loan. November retail sales jumped 1.9%, compared to the same month in 2008.
November sales included Black Friday, the post-Thanksgiving shopping spree that is generally one of the hottest days of the year for retail. But this year’s Black Friday disappointed retailers, with sales rising an anemic 0.5%, falling short of Thomson Reuters’ forecast of a 2.1% rise.
Also today, at 9:55 a.m. ET, the University of Michigan will release its preliminary consumer sentiment index for November. The November index is expected to rise to 68.8, according to a Briefing.com consensus, from the prior month’s index of 67.4.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the government is unlikely to recoup its investments in insurer American International Group Inc. or the automakers General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC.
Geithner, in testimony today before the Congressional Oversight Panel, also said he chose to extend the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program to give the Obama administration more time to unwind its bank-rescue efforts. The economy faces “significant headwinds,” and housing markets remain dependent on government support even as they are stabilizing, he said.
Still, U.S. financial and economic conditions have improved, Geithner told the panel in Washington. The Treasury now expects to make money on its banking investments, if not on its efforts to stabilize the automobile and insurance industries.
“It’s unlikely that we will be repaid for all of our investments in AIG, G.M. and Chrysler,” Geithner said.
The Government Accountability Office yesterday said that U.S. taxpayers will lose $30.4 billion from the auto-industry bailout, down from a prior estimate of $43.7 billion. The GAO report predicted a similar loss of $30.4 billion in AIG, down from a previous estimate of $31.5 billion.
Asked about future repayment by the largest banks still with government investments, Geithner said it is “generally desirable” that they raise all the money they need to repay in equity offerings.
“Cleaner exit is better than a staged exit,” he said. “I’m not sure that is going to be possible in every circumstance.”
While he didn’t discuss Citigroup Inc.’s efforts to extricate itself from the TARP, Geithner did note Bank of America Corp.’s repayment, which came yesterday. “I got a check for $45 billion,” he said, adding that was a “good thing.”
Under questioning by panelists, Geithner defended the government’s handling of last year’s AIG rescue, which has come under fire because banks were given the full value on credit- default swaps purchased from the New York-based insurer. Geithner was president of the New York Federal Reserve at the time and had a leading role in the bailout.
“You cannot selectively default on contractual obligations without courting collapse,” Geithner told the panel, explaining why the government paid banks 100 cents on the dollar. “There is no other way in the context of that storm to protect the economy from that failure.”
The Treasury chief also faced skepticism about his decision to extend the TARP until next October.
The program is “essentially a blank check to finance any macroeconomic stimulus initiative that the executive branch can imagine, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars,” said panel member Paul Atkins, a former Republican member of the Securities and Exchange Commission easy payday loans.
“The economy would not be growing again without TARP,” Geithner said.
The U.S. economy expanded at a 2.8 percent annual rate in the third quarter after shrinking for a year. The economy will expand 2.6 percent in 2010, according to the median forecast of 58 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News this month. The jobless rate will average 10 percent next year.
While assisting AIG and the auto companies will cost taxpayers, the Treasury predicts a $19 billion profit on its banking investments, Geithner said.
Long-term TARP costs will be no higher than $140 billion, the Treasury said. The ultimate return will depend on how the economy fares, Geithner said.
The Treasury expects “substantial income” from sales of TARP warrants, received as part of the government’s investment in banks, in coming weeks, Geithner said. He said that auctions will often bring the highest returns for the government.
Banks that pay back their capital injections must also dispose of the warrants that the Treasury received, either by repurchasing them or allowing the department to sell them. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. redeemed its warrants for $1.1 billion, while JPMorgan Chase & Co. opted to allow the government to auction its warrants after the Treasury rejected an appraisal as too low.
Geithner appeared before the panel, led by Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, as it prepared for a personnel shift. Representative Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican, resigned yesterday.
Hensarling, who is being replaced by Dallas attorney Mark McWatters, has repeatedly criticized the bailout. George Rasley, a spokesman for the congressman, said Hensarling had agreed to stay on the panel for the expected duration of the TARP. The effort was set to expire Dec. 31 until Geithner extended it yesterday.
In his testimony, Geithner told the panel that the Treasury can’t force small banks to participate in initiatives aimed at stimulating small-business lending. He said these programs have been less successful than hoped because banks have been wary of submitting to the extra regulation that comes with taking TARP aid.
Geithner said parts of the securitization markets are “still impaired,” especially for securities backed by commercial mortgages. He also hailed improvements in the markets for asset-backed securities, which he said are no longer as dependent on publicly supported markets like the Federal Reserve’s Term Asset-Backed Securities Lending Facility.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will be a featured speaker at an economic forum in Atlanta next month.
Bernanke will speak Jan. 3 at the American Economic Association annual meeting at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.
Bernanke’s speech will open the AEA’s 125th anniversary meeting. The AEA publishes several economics periodicals, including the American Economic Review and the Journal of Economic Literature easy payday loans.
Other notables attending the three-day summit include Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.
The reactor would have command-and-control systems and passive safety features, and be buried in an underground containment building and monitored 24-7 with sensors. It wouldn’t need water for cooling. The fuel would be loaded in the factory prior to delivery and there would be enough to operate nearly 20 years. After that, its uranium fuel cartridge would be switched out with a new cartridge. About 95 per cent of the fuel waste from the old cartridges would be recycled into new fuel.
Sandia isn’t the only group thinking this way. Power-plant equipment maker Babcock & Wilcox has entered the small nuclear market, and a number of start-ups – Hyperion Power and NuScale Power among them – are also blazing a trail.
The number of first-time filers for unemployment insurance fell last week to a nearly 15-month low, according to a government report released Wednesday.
There were 457,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended Nov. 28, down 5,000 from a revised 462,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said.
That’s the lowest level since the week ended Sept. 6, 2008. The week being reported included the Thanksgiving holiday.
A consensus estimate of economists surveyed by Briefing.com expected 480,000 new claims for the week.
The 4-week moving average of initial claims was 481,250, down 14,250 from the previous week.
Continuing claims: The government also said 5,465,000 people filed continuing claims in the week ended Nov. 21, the most recent data available. That’s up 28,000 from the preceding week.
The 4-week moving average for ongoing claims fell by 75,750 to 5,541,500.
But the slide in continuing claims may signal that more filers are falling off those rolls and into extended benefits.
Continuing claims reflect people filing each week after their initial claim until the end of their standard benefits, which usually last 26 weeks. The figures do not include those who have moved to state or federal extensions, nor people who have exhausted their benefits.
Obama’s jobs forum. The Obama administration is holding a jobs summit Thursday. The president will meet with labor representatives, financial experts, small-business owners and other business leaders to discuss how to revive the labor market no fax pay day loan.
The 130 forum participants are meeting on the eve of the government’s November unemployment report.
The nation is expected to have lost another 125,000 jobs, with unemployment remaining at a 26-year high of 10.2%, according to a consensus of economists surveyed by Briefing.com.
Last month, the Labor Department reported that the nation’s unemployment rate rose above 10% for the first time since 1983.
A separate report released by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. Wednesday showed the pace of job losses slowing to the lowest level in two years, but the number of cuts announced in 2009 have already exceeded last year’s total.
State-by-state data: Only one state reported initial claims fell by more than 1,000 for the week ended Nov. 21, the most recent data available.
Claims in Michigan decreased by 1,242, which the state attributed to fewer layoffs in the auto industry.
Nineteen states said that claims increased by more than 1,000. California reported that claims rose by 14,796; Illinois had 6,168 more claims; North Carolina’s increased by 5,557; Pennsylvania saw a jump of 5,285; and Texas claims rose by 3,500.
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