Monday, March 19 , 2018, 8:49 am | Fair 42º


Craig Greene: Housing Price Index Up for Fifth Straight Month

The index is now up 3.4 percent from its bottom in May

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city housing price index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.4 percent in October. It was the fifth consecutive monthly gain and follows a 0.2 percent increase in September.

The index is now up 3.4 percent from its bottom in May. On a year-over-year basis, the gauge was down 7.3 percent from October 2008 and down 29 percent below its peak in April 2006.

U.S. retail sales rose 3.6 percent from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24, according to MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse, which estimates all forms of payment including cash. Online sales jumped 18 percent, consumer electronics increased 5.9 percent and jewelry sales rose 5.6 percent. Economists had anticipated overall retail sales to remain flat.

The Conference Board reported that its consumer confidence index rose to 52.9 in December from an upwardly revised 50.6 in November. Economists had expected a reading of 52. The index — which hit a record low of 25.3 in February — was benchmarked at 100 in 1985, a year chosen because it was neither a peak nor a trough in consumer confidence.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 22,000 to 432,000 in the week ending Dec. 26. It was the lowest pace since July 2008. Continuing claims for the week ending Dec. 19 fell 57,000 to 4.98 million, the lowest level since February.

Coming up on the economic calendar are reports on construction spending on Monday, pending home sales on Tuesday and wholesale trade Friday.

— Craig Greene is a senior loan officer at Prospect Mortgage, 3916 State St., Suite 100, Santa Barbara 93105. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 805.898.4211.

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