Japan’s wholesale prices mark first fall in five months as pandemic hits global demand By Reuters


© Reuters. Spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Tokyo

By Leika Kihara

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s wholesale prices marked the first annual decline in five months in March, suggesting that slumping global demand for oil and raw material due to the coronavirus pandemic will weigh on inflation in coming months.

The corporate goods price index (CGPI), which measures the price companies charge each other for their goods and services, fell 0.4% in March from a year earlier, Bank of Japan (BOJ) data showed on Friday.

The drop was bigger than a median market forecast for a 0.1% decline and followed a 0.8% rise in February. It was the first year-on-year fall since last October, when prices fell 0.3%.

Prices of oil and coal prices fell 10.3% in March from a year earlier, while those of non-ferrous metal goods were down 7.6%, the data showed.

Wholesale prices, considered a leading indicator for consumer inflation, have been under pressure from slumping oil and metal costs as the pandemic paralyses global economic activity.

The data heightens the chance the BOJ will cut its consumer inflation forecasts when it conducts a quarterly review of its projections at its April 27-28 policy meeting.

Under its current forecasts made in January, the BOJ expects core consumer inflation to hit 1.0% in the fiscal year that began in April, remaining distant from its 2% target.

Sources have told Reuters the BOJ is likely to make a rare projection this month that the world’s third-largest economy will shrink this year as the pandemic threatens to push the country deep into recession.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



U.S. job openings fall; coronavirus shutdowns seen causing further declines By Reuters


© Reuters. The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Fayetteville

By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. job openings fell in February, suggesting the labor market was losing momentum even before stringent measures to control the novel coronavirus outbreak shuttered businesses, throwing millions out of work.

That was underscored by another report on Tuesday showing a sharp decline in the share of small businesses planning to increase employment in March. The reports came in the wake of data last week showing the economy shed 701,000 jobs in March. The unemployment rate shot up 0.9 percentage point, the most since January 1975, to 4.4 percent in March.

With 10 million people filing for unemployment benefits in the last two weeks of March and millions more expected to have submitted claims last week, economists are expecting payrolls to sink by at least a record 20 million in April and the jobless rate to top 10%.

“The economy would be lucky to just be in a recession right now instead of what is looking more and more like the twilight zone of depression if Washington policymakers aren’t careful,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York.

Job openings, a measure of labor demand, decreased 130,000 to 6.9 million, the Labor Department said in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS. Vacancies peaked at 7.5 million in January 2019. The job openings rate slipped to 4.3% in February from 4.4% in January.

The decline in job openings was led by real estate and rental and leasing, and information industries. But there were 927,000 vacancies in the leisure and hospitality industry, with 783,000 of them at hotels, bars and restaurants.

Retailers had 727,000 job openings in February. None of these vacancies likely exist now, with entire industries virtually closed.

Hiring was little changed at 5.9 million in February, keeping the hiring rate at 3.9% for a third straight month. JOLTS data in the coming months will be closely watched for clues on the impact of the coronavirus shutdowns on hiring.

Stocks on Wall Street were trading higher as early signs of a slowdown in coronavirus cases in the nation’s hot spots raised hopes that sweeping lockdown measures to contain the outbreak were working. The dollar () weakened against a basket of currencies. Prices of U.S. Treasuries fell.

DEEP PAIN

“What we do not know yet is how much hiring has frozen in industries that have continued to operate by having the option of at-home work,” said Sophia Koropeckyj, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “A freeze on hiring due to the uncertainty about the duration and severity of the downturn as well as such tangible things as canceled or delayed contracts will create a secondary effect that will deepen the pain in the labor market.”

A separate report from the National Federation of Independent Business on Tuesday offered some early indications on hiring in the months ahead. According to the NFIB, the share of small businesses planning to increase hiring plummeted to 9% in March, the smallest since August 2016, from 21% in February.

Overall, confidence among small business tumbled by the most on record to its lowest level since October 2016.

Economists say the labor market’s fate will be determined by how quickly small businesses can access funding that has been put together by the government as part of a historic $2.3 trilling fiscal stimulus package. The Federal Reserve has also taken extraordinary measures to provide liquidity to businesses.

“The extraordinary stimulus efforts from the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve should support small businesses in coming months and help to keep workers on payrolls,” said Ben Ayers, senior economist at Nationwide in Columbus, Ohio.

“Still, the rollout and timing of the lending programs for small enterprises will be key to limiting the negative effects from the economic downturn.”

The JOLTS report showed the number of workers voluntarily quitting their jobs slipped to 3.5 million in February from 3.6 million in the prior month. The quits rate held at 2.3% for the sixth straight month.

The quits rate is viewed by policymakers and economists as a measure of job market confidence. Layoffs rose to 1.8 million in February from 1.7 million in January. The layoffs rate increased to 1.2% from 1.1% in January.

There were increases in layoffs in the real estate and rental and leasing sector, and the federal government.



UK firms fall deeper into record-breaking slump: March PMIs By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The sun rises behind The Shard and the financial district as a cyclist rides through Richmond Park in London

LONDON (Reuters) – A record-breaking slump among Britain’s services and manufacturing firms deepened in late March with much of the economy in a shutdown to slow the spread of coronavirus, a survey showed on Friday.

The final composite Purchasing Managers’ Index covering the two sectors fell to 36.0 from a preliminary “flash” reading of 37.1 and 53.0 in February, data firm IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply said.

Britain’s dominant services industry suffered its biggest slump by far since the survey began in 1996, and its index sank to 34.5 from February’s 53.2, weaker than the flash reading of 35.7.

The survey data were collected March 12-27, covering the period after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the closure of bars, restaurants, gyms and other services businesses to slow the coronavirus outbreak on March 20.

“There were numerous reports from survey respondents that placing staff on furlough had helped to mitigate more widespread job losses in March,” Tim Moore, economics director at IHS Markit, said.

With policymakers around the world scrambling to cushion their economies from the coronavirus shock, Britain’s government offered to pay 80% of the wages of workers who are temporarily laid off by companies.

“However, employment levels across the service sector still dropped at the fastest pace for more than a decade, reflecting some forced redundancies and the non-replacement of departing staff amid widespread hiring freezes,” Moore said.

The survey showed the biggest drop in new work among services firms and the bleakest business expectations in more than 20 years of data collection.

Technology services were the only area to signal a rise in business activity – possibly reflecting the stay-at-home order for many people – but new workloads for tech firms dropped more quickly in this category than at any time since 2011.

A final PMI for Britain’s manufacturing sector, published on Wednesday, showed factory output shrank at the fastest pace since the euro zone debt crisis in March.

Economists expect a slump of 10% or more in Britain’s economic output in the second quarter, far worse than during the global financial crisis, but say a sharp recovery is possible once the coronavirus outbreak peaks and fades.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



Irish central bank predicts record unemployment, 8.3% GDP fall By Reuters


© Reuters. A Belfast to Dublin bus is seen outside the Customs House in the Irish Financial Services Centre in Dublin

By Graham Fahy

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ireland’s central bank said on Friday the shock to the economy from the coronavirus pandemic could be greater than in any year of the financial crisis as a record collapse in services sector activity demonstrated the speed of the decline.

Unable to make a conventional forecast without knowing how long the crisis will last, or the economic toll it will take, the bank estimated that gross domestic product could fall by 8.3% in 2020 if current containment measures last three months.

Ireland, whose economy grew by 5.5% last year, ordered its citizens a week ago to stay home until at least April 12 to slow the spread of the virus after a gradual ramping up of restrictions from mid-March.

As a result the transport, tourism and leisure sectors led a collapse in services sector output last month, according to the AIB IHS Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for services which fell to 32.5 from 59.9 in February on Friday.

It was the first time the survey dropped below the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction since 2012 when years of strong growth in the economy began. The month-on-month drop was more than four times greater than the previous record.

The central bank expects the jobless rate to soar to around 25% during the second quarter, from 4.8% at the start of the pandemic. The rate could fall back to 12.6% by the end of the year, Central Bank Director of Economics Mark Cassidy said.

A surge in people seeking some form of welfare income support since the introduction of measures to limit the spread of the virus has left the state supporting 513,350 people, or a fifth of the labour force, data showed on Thursday.

The central bank estimated that the total cost of the fiscal measures introduced so far stood at 8.2 billion euros, which on top of tax revenues that already fell sharply in March would turn the government’s forceast pre-coronavirus budget surplus of 0.7% of GDP into a decit of 6%.

The interventions will push debt as a proportion of gross national income or GNI* – a new, more accurate way of measuring the debt pile – to 112% from 97% in 2019.

It said the situation could be worse if the public health situation does not improve over the coming months, with added risks including firms forced to close during containment, the extent of permanent job losses or permanent income cuts and changes to consumer behaviour as the pandemic eases.

“Even if we get a grip on the pandemic within the time period that we are assuming, there is a lot of uncertainty about the longer-term degree of scarring or more persistent effects,” Cassidy told a conference call.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the central bank’s GDP estimate was in line with the possible scenarios his department were looking at and that the government would have to examine ways to support exporters as many big markets may lag Ireland’s recovery from the virus.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



Asia shares under threat as futures fall early


SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian share markets looked set for a rocky start on Monday as U.S. stock futures took an early spill amid fears the global shutdown for the coronavirus could last for months, doing untold harm to economies.

FILE PHOTO: Passersby wearing protective face masks following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are reflected on a screen displaying stock prices outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 skidded 1.7% right from the bell, while Nikkei futures pointed to an opening loss of around 500 points.

Central banks have mounted an all-out effort to bolster activity with rate cuts and massive asset-buying campaigns, which has at least eased liquidity strains in markets.

Canada’s central bank on Friday surprised with an emergency rate cut to 0.25% and a program of quantitative easing, while New Zealand policy makers on Monday launched a loan program for corporates to meet liquidity needs.

Rodrigo Catril, a senior FX strategist at NAB, said the main question for markets was whether all the stimulus would be enough to help the global economy withstand the shock.

“To answer this question, one needs to know the magnitude of the containment measures and for how long they will be implemented,” he added.

“This is the big unknown and it suggests markets are likely to remain volatile until this uncertainty is resolved.”

With that in mind, it was not encouraging that British authorities were warning lockdown measures could last months.

Graphic: Asian stock markets – here

While President Donald Trump had talked about reopening the U.S. economy for Easter, on Sunday he extended guidelines for social restrictions to April 30 and said the peak of the death count from the respiratory disease could be two weeks away.

Bond investors looked to be bracing for a long haul with yields at the very short end of the curve turning negative and those on 10-year notes dropping a steep 26 basis points last week to 0.67%.

Early on Monday, Treasury futures climbed anew and pointed to a fresh fall in yields.

That drop has combined with efforts by the Federal Reserve to pump more U.S. dollars into markets, and dragged the currency off recent highs.

Indeed, the dollar suffered its biggest weekly decline in more than a decade last week.

Against the yen, the dollar was pinned at 107.80, well off the recent high at 111.71. The euro was firm at $1.1118 after rallying more than 4% last week.

The retreat in the dollar proved a fillip for gold, which was up 0.4% on Monday at $1,625.18 an ounce.

It has been little help for oil as Saudi Arabia and Russia show no signs of backing down in their price war.

Brent crude futures lost 89 cents to $24.04 a barrel, while U.S. crude fell 96 cents to $20.55.

Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Peter Cooney



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China’s industrial firms post steepest fall in profits in a decade By Reuters


© Reuters. Employees wearing face masks work on a car seat assembly line at Yanfeng Adient factory in Shanghai

By Gabriel Crossley and Roxanne Liu

BEIJING (Reuters) – Profits at China’s industrial firms slumped in the first two months of the year to their lowest in at least a decade, with the mining, manufacturing and power sectors all seeing sharp falls, as a virus epidemic battered China’s economy.

Profits earned by Chinese industrial firms in the first two months dropped 38.3% from a year earlier to 410.7 billion yuan ($58.15 billion), worsening from a 6.3% fall seen in December last year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data showed. It marked the steepest decline in data going back to 2010.

The reading combines the results for January and February to exclude distortions caused by the week-long Lunar New Year.

The outbreak escalated just as many businesses were closing for the long holiday break in late January, and widespread restrictions on transportation and personal travel, as well as mass quarantine, delayed their reopening for weeks.

The decline in profits points to lingering trouble for the manufacturing sector, which is wrestling with fallout from the health crisis that has severely hurt output. Most analysts now expect a contraction in gross domestic product in the first quarter.

Industrial production and sales fell sharply amid epidemic control efforts, while the costs of labor and depreciation continued to put pressure on companies, a statistics bureau official said in a statement published alongside the data.

Profits for the automobiles, electrical equipment, chemicals and electronics industries saw some of the steepest declines, with those for the latter falling 87%.

Only four of the 41 industries surveyed saw profit increases: tobacco products, non-ferrous metals, oil and gas exploitation, and processing of non-staple agricultural goods.

The weakness in profits was in line with broader pressures on Chinese factories.

Manufacturing output plummeted at the sharpest pace in three decades in the first two months as the virus outbreak interrupted normal production, while factory gate prices fell more than expected in February.

Industrial profits are expected to improve as the shock of the epidemic impact wanes and firms get back to work, but rising risk of a global recession will hurt the recovery.

“The profit outlook will remain bleak before new stimulus to aggregate demand,” said Xing Zhaopeng, markets economist at ANZ in Shanghai. “The worldwide lockdowns will continue to weigh on the economy.”

Louis Kuijs, economist at Oxford Economics, expects a recovery in profits to lag that in industrial output.

“With many companies operating below capacity and facing constraints because of remaining restrictions on the movement of people, profit margins will remain under pressure.”

For the first two months, profits at state-owned industrial firms dropped 32.9% on year, while private-sector profits fell 36.6%.

Liabilities at industrial firms grew 5.3% on year at end-February, versus a 5.4% increase as of end-2019.

Citing a survey by a major Chinese recruitment website, Capital Economics said findings suggest that close to a quarter of firms had stopped paying wages by last week. A further half of firms had cut or delayed pay.



Some U.S. wealth advisers tell clients to stay put as markets fall


NEW YORK (Reuters) – The deepest U.S. stock market sell-off since the 2008 financial crisis is prompting some financial advisers to tell wealthy clients to hold steady or even increase their equity exposure if they have at least 10 years until retirement.

FILE PHOTO: The final numbers of the day are displayed above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) stands empty as the building prepares to close indefinitely due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in New York, U.S., March 20, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

Remaining fully invested in stocks despite the volatility and economic shocks from the rapidly spreading coronavirus is easier said than done. Yet financial advisers predict a broad economic recovery without a depression, thanks in part to extraordinary Federal Reserve measures to backstop financial markets.

These advisers said they believe investors with a longer timeline have an opportunity to buy equities at low valuations.

The benchmark S&P 500 trades at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 13.8, about 30% less than when it hit record highs on Feb. 19 and 11% below its long-term average, according to Refinitiv data.

“The reality is that no matter how you think about it, the next five-year return given these valuations is undoubtedly higher than it was two months ago,” said Joe Duran, chief executive of Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s United Capital division.

Duran is telling clients who feel they have to get out to either sell a small portion of their portfolio and move the cash to a bank account, or sell stocks with deep declines to book losses for tax write-offs.

The argument that stocks will quickly recover rests on assumptions never tested in such extreme conditions.

Markets can fall even further, warned Steve Chiavarone, portfolio manager and equity strategist at Federated Hermes. “If anybody tells you they’re not professionally or personally nervous they’re lying.”

STAYING PUT

Financial adviser Charles Sachs, at Kaufman Rossin Wealth in Miami, does not think the market is near the bottom. Everyone is concerned, but the majority of his wealthy clients are staying put because they expect a quick rebound.

“The problem with a V-shaped recovery is that nobody rings a bell when you’re at the bottom of the V,” Sachs said.

Nick Hofer, a certified financial planner at Boston Family Advisors, said some clients are buying broad-based funds with the periodic cash payments from their private equity and venture capital investments.

“These volatility moves show that the market doesn’t know when this is going to end,” said Hofer.

Some wealthy people have no option but to stay put.

Leon LaBrecque, chief growth officer at Sequoia Financial Group in Troy, Michigan, said almost all of his clients with concentrated stock positions in individual companies inherited them, with a very low basis and would incur huge taxes if they sold. One client inherited stock with a $10,000 basis that is now worth $10 million.

They will be fine “unless you end up with bankruptcies or a significant protracted recession,” LaBrecque said, pointing to an L-shaped market curve with an extended bottom.

Reporting by David Randall and Beth Pinsker; Editing by Richard Chang



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Stocks fall as virus uncertainty lingers; dollar set for weekly loss


NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stocks across the globe fell on Friday after a historic three-day run-up, with indexes poised to close the month and quarter with starkly negative performances.

The volatility of the erratic markets is expected to continue as the coronavirus pandemic that triggered closures in economies worldwide remains very much a threat.

The United States surpassed two grim milestones on Thursday as virus-related deaths soared past 1,000 and it become the world leader in confirmed cases.

The uncertainty over the overall human and economic toll was reflected in financial markets, with MSCI’s gauge of global stocks on track to post both its largest weekly percentage gain since 2008 and its largest monthly and quarterly drops since 2008.

The infection rate for the coronavirus is driving much of the market at a time of great uncertainty, said Yousef Abbasi, global market strategist at INTL FCStone Financial Inc in New York.

“My big hang-up here is when the curve does start to flatten, that doesn’t mean we can return to normal human and economic behavior. If we do return to normal human and economic behavior, we risk the chance the curve goes parabolic again. Just from the perspective of how long this potentially can last, there’s still a great deal of uncertainty,” he said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 827.25 points, or 3.67%, to 21,724.92, the S&P 500 lost 87.31 points, or 3.32%, to 2,542.76 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 255.69 points, or 3.28%, to 7,541.85.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 3.22% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 2.41%.

Emerging market stocks lost 1.07%.

Stock markets have rallied over the past week on trillions of dollars of enacted and pledged economic stimulus by policymakers worldwide, from central banks to governments.

Policymakers may need to offer more stimulus as the virus slams the brakes on economic activity and increases healthcare spending.

“Next week, markets will likely continue to focus on the spread of COVID-19 – whether European cases are reaching a peak, how much of the U.S. will be put in lockdown, and whether China can avoid a second wave,” said Gaétan Peroux, strategist at UBS Global Wealth Management.

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass a $2.2 trillion stimulus package that will flood the world’s largest economy with money to stem the economic damage caused by the pandemic.

Amid the avalanche of stimulus, the U.S. dollar was little changed for the day and remained on track for its biggest weekly decline since May 2009.

The dollar index fell 0.393% on Friday.

The euro was up 0.24% to $1.1055, the Japanese yen strengthened 1.57% versus the greenback at 107.92 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.2367, up 1.36% on the day.

The U.S. currency’s fall after two weeks of steep gains suggests the Federal Reserve’s efforts to relieve a crunch in the dollar funding market are working, some analysts said.

“What we are seeing is abating stress in the money markets. Action by central banks has been successful so far and a shortage of dollars has been taken off the table,” said Ulrich Leuchtmann, head of FX and EM research at Commerzbank.

U.S. Treasury yields were headed for a weekly decline, though the range of trading was far less volatile than in the previous two sessions.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 22/32 in price to yield 0.7377%, from 0.808% late on Thursday. The 30-year bond last rose 1-26/32 in price to yield 1.3267%, from 1.395%.

Oil prices continued their fall on demand concerns as the virus slowed economies to a crawl, which outweighed the stimulus efforts.

FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX board as markets react to the coronavirus crisis. Frankfurt, Germany, March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo

U.S. crude recently fell 5.44% to $21.37 per barrel and Brent was recently at $24.54, down 6.83% on the day.

Gold market participants remained concerned about a supply squeeze after a sharp divergence between prices in London and New York. The virus has grounded planes used to transport gold and closed precious metal refineries.

Spot gold dropped 0.3% to $1,623.82 an ounce. The metal was on track to post its largest weekly advance since 2008.

Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Additional reporting by Sujata Rao and Ritvik Carvalho in London, Karen Brettell, Herbert Lash and Kate Duguid in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler



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U.S. new home sales fall in February, January revised up sharply By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Construction workers build a single family home in San Diego, California

By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Sales of new U.S. single-family homes fell in February after surging in the prior month, and could decline further because of the coronavirus pandemic which is boosting unemployment and severely disrupting economic activity.

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday new home sales dropped 4.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 765,000 units last month. January’s sales pace was revised sharply higher to 800,000 units, which was the highest level since May 2007, from the previously reported 764,000 units.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales, which account for more than 10% of housing market sales, declining 2.0% to a pace of 750,000 units in February.

“We expect new home sales to fall more sharply in March and decline nearly 10% in the second quarter,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics in New York. “Low mortgage rates and pent-up demand will be supportive of housing when a recovery is underway, but severe job losses and damage to household confidence may make a quick bounceback difficult.”

New home sales are drawn from permits and tend to be volatile on a month-to-month basis because of a small sample. Sales jumped 14.3% from a year ago.

The coronavirus has brought much of the United States to a halt as state and local governments enforce “social distancing” policies aimed at containing the highly contagious virus, virtually closing all restaurants, bars, cinemas and theaters.

The government reported last week that the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits jumped 70,000, the most since 2012 to a two-and-a-half year high of 281,000 during the week ended March 14. Economists are predicting claims will accelerate to a record 1.5 million or more when last week’s data is published on Thursday.

The Federal Reserve on Monday rolled out an extraordinary new array of programs aimed at blunting the “severe disruptions” to the economy caused by the coronavirus outbreak, backstopping an unprecedented range of credit for households, small businesses and employers. The U.S. Congress was on Tuesday close to reaching a deal on a $2 trillion stimulus for the economy.

Last month, new home sales fell 7.3% in the Midwest and tumbled 17.2% in the West. They soared 38.9% in the Northeast and rose 1.0% in the South, which accounts for the bulk of transactions.

The housing market has regained its footing as mortgage rates have declined after hitting a soft patch beginning in the first quarter of 2018 through the second quarter of 2019.

Reports last week showed existing home sales hit a 13-year high in February. Single-family homebuilding, which accounts for the largest share of the housing market, increased in February to the highest level since June 2007.

Completions of single-family housing last month were the highest since December 2007, and the inventory of homes under construction rose to levels last seen in December 2006.

That could help to ease a shortage of homes that has constrained sales. The median new house price increased 7.8% to $320,000 in February from a year ago.

Sales last month were concentrated in the $200,000-$749,000 price range. New homes priced below $200,000, the most sought after, accounted for 11% of sales.

There were 319,000 new homes on the market in February, down from 322,000 in January. At February’s sales pace it would take 5.0 months to clear the supply of houses on the market, up from 4.8 months in January.



Oil Prices Fall Again as OPEC Deals Fails to Materialise  By Investing.com


© Reuters.

Investing.com – Oil prices plummeted to their lowest levels since 2003 as an anticipated deal between OPEC and the U.S. failed to materialise. 

Monday morning in Asia, International fell 4.09% fall to $26.06  by 9:31 PM ET (01:31 AM GMT) while U.S. rose 0.75% to $22.83, recovering a little.  

On Friday, OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo invited Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton to the organisation’s summer meeting in June. Although this invitation quickly raised hopes for a deal to stabilise oil prices, Sitton attracted criticism as he called for decreased production of Texan crude output for the first time since 1970. 

Neither Saudi Arabia nor Russia are backing down from their brinkmanship in the ongoing price war, with Kremlin watchers stating that Russian President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to bend to what he perceives as Saudi oil blackmail. 

The increased supply that both countries are insisting on could soon send prices crashing even lower, as the unabating spread of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to lower demand. 

American Petroleum Institute Senior Vice President Frank Macchiarola told Bloomberg: “It seems totally irrational that the solution to the disruptive behavior of Saudi Arabia and Russia would be to imitate OPEC.” 

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.