Builder confidence holds steady
Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes was unchanged in January, remaining at a level of 47 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. This figure follows eight consecutive monthly gains. The index continues to hold at its highest level since April of 2006.
"Conditions in the housing market look much better now than at the beginning of 2012, and an increasing number of housing markets are showing signs of recovery, which should bode well for future home sales later this year," said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. "However, uncertainties stemming from last month’s fiscal cliff negotiations contributed to the pause in builder confidence and continuing discussions among policymakers related to spending cuts, and the future of the mortgage interest deduction could put a damper on housing demand in the coming months."
NAHB chief economist David Crowe said: "Builders’ sentiment remains very close to the index’s tipping point of 50, where an equal number of builders view conditions as good and poor, and fundamentals indicate continued momentum in housing this year. However, persistently tight mortgage credit conditions, difficulties in obtaining accurate appraisals and the ongoing stalemate in Washington over critical economic concerns continue to impede the housing recovery."
Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 25 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as "good," "fair" or "poor." The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as "high to very high," "average" or "low to very low." Scores from each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number more than 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.
Verilux enters LED bulb market
Verilux has introduced a new collection of LED bulbs designed to look like the “traditional Edison bulb.” The line of 26 bulbs is designed without the large heat sink found on most other LED bulbs on the market today, according to the Waitsfield, Vt., manufacturer.
“Verilux engineers have been working with LED technology for several years to design an affordable, long-lasting LED bulb that looks like a traditional Edison bulb,” said Verilux CEO Ryan Douglas. “Our Classic LED bulbs are an energy-efficient solution, perfect for use in candelabras, chandeliers, sconces and desk and floor lamps because they do not compromise the appearance of the fixture.”
The Verilux’s Classic LED bulbs feature an all-glass design that provides 360-degree illumination, just like a traditional incandescent bulb. They do not have a plastic casing on the lower third of the bulb that compromises the traditional look and blocks downward light.
The new bulbs carry an estimated 13-year lifespan. Verilux’s Classic LED bulbs provide full, instant-on illumination and work with most common dimmers. Prices range from $14.95 to $29.95.
Retail sales rise in December
Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for December, were $415.7 billion, an increase of 0.5% from the previous month and up 4.7 percent compared with December 2011.
In the data released Tuesday morning, total sales for the 12 months of 2012 were up 5.2% from 2011.
Retail trade sales were up 0.4% from November 2012 and 4.4% above last year. Nonstore retailers were up 12.6% from December 2011.
The figures are adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes.
For building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers, a category that includes home centers and hardware stores, December sales were estimated at $24.804 billion, essentially flat from November, but up 2.0% from the year ago month.