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HCN Stock Index up 1.33 percent

BY HBSDEALER Staff

After a week of major losses, the HCN Stock Index gained 1.33 percent on Friday, finishing the day at 729.15.

The HCN index, a basket of 20 stocks weighted by market cap, ended the day with 10 companies showing gains. Beacon Roofing Supply’s 17.4 percent increase led the charge. Simpson Manufacturing closed at $23.57, up 8.27 percent.

Huttig Building Products declined 20 cents to $1.22, a 14.1 percent drop.

The Dow Jones Industrial average also declined, finishing the day down 128 points, or 1.49 percent.

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HCN Stock Index Drops 6.1 percent

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The HCN Stock Index sank again on Thursday, falling 6.1 percent to 719.59. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial average dropped 679 points, or 5.47 percent, to finish Thursday at 8,579 – its lowest point since May of 2003.

Of the 20 stocks in the HCN index, 18 showed declines for the day, including a 5.86 percent decline at Home Depot, and a 4.55 percent drop at Lowe’s. Bluelinx Holdings was one bright spot – up 53 cents to $4.35. The other gainer was BMHC, up 3 cents to $0.77.

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Pending home sales show surprising jump

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The index of pending home sales, an indicator measuring the number of contracts signed in August, showed surprising strength, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The index rose 7.4 percent to 93.4 from an upwardly revised reading of 87.0 in July, and is 8.8 percent higher than August 2007 when it stood at 85.8. The index is at the highest level since June 2007 when it stood at 101.4.

“What we’re seeing is the momentum of people taking advantage of low home prices, with pending home sales up strongly in California, Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Rhode Island and the Washington, D.C., region,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

The index in the West surged 18.4 percent to 109.5 in August and remains 37.8 percent above a year ago.

In the Northeast the index jumped 8.4 percent to 79.8 and is 2.0 percent higher than August 2007.

The index in the Midwest rose 3.6 percent to 84.5 in August and is 6.6 percent above a year ago.

In the South, the index increased 2.3 percent to 96.0 but is 2.1 percent below August 2007.

Yun notes the unusual timing of contract activity in August. “Home buyers in July were hampered by overly stringent lending criteria in the months before the government takeover of Fannie and Freddie,” he said. “August shows some unleashing of pent-up demand before the credit crisis accelerated in September.”

He cautioned that the sampling size for pending home sales is smaller than the track on existing-home sales, so there is more volatility in the forward-looking series. “We need to see just how much of this gain holds up,” Yun added.

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