S&P/Case-Shiller Index shows some improvement
The S&P/Case-Shiller Index, a leading indicator of U.S. housing prices, showed a 0.9% rise in home prices in July 2011 compared with the previous month for both its 10- and 20-city composites. This is the fourth consecutive month of increases for both indices.
In July 2011, the 10- and 20-City Composites recorded annual returns of -3.7% and -4.1%, respectively.
Seventeen of the 20 MSAs and both composites posted positive monthly increases; Las Vegas and Phoenix were down over the month, and Denver was unchanged.
On an annual basis, 18 of the 20 MSAs in the indices were down in July 2011 versus the same month last year. After three consecutive double-digit annual declines, Minneapolis improved marginally to a decline of 9.1%, which is still the worst of the 20 cities. Detroit and Washington, D.C., were the two MSAs that posted positive rates of change, up 1.2% and 0.3%, respectively.
"With July’s data we are seeing not only anticipated monthly increases, but some fairly broad improvement in the annual rates of change in home prices,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Indices. “This is still a seasonal period of stronger demand for houses, so monthly price increases are expected and were seen in 17 of the 20 cities. The exceptions were Las Vegas and Phoenix, where prices fell, while Denver was flat. The better news is that 14 of 20 cities and both composites saw their annual rates of change improve in July.
“While we have now seen four consecutive months of generally increasing prices, we do know that we are still far from a sustained recovery. Eighteen of the 20 cities and both composites are showing that home prices are still below where they were a year ago. The 10-city composite is down 3.7% and the 20-city is down 4.1% compared with July 2010. Continued increases in home prices through the end of the year and better annual results must materialize before we can confirm a housing market recovery.”
Martha rejoins her namesake board
Martha Stewart has rejoined the board of directors of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, the company has announced. Her addition will expand the number of directors to nine members.
Stewart has been officially absent from the company she founded because of a five-year Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ban on serving as a board member or an executive of a public company. The SEC prohibition was part of a settlement over insider-trading charges for which Stewart served five months in prison.
August Consumer Confidence Index rises marginally
Consumer confidence continues to plod along in the mid-forties.
Data released Tuesday morning by the New York City-based Conference Board showed the Consumer Confidence Index for the month of September at 45.4, up slightly from an upwardly revised 45.2 reading in August.
A year ago, the index was at 48.6. It rose to above 70 in February of this year, but has since slipped back into the forties for two consecutive months.
“The pessimism that shrouded consumers last month has spilled over into September. Consumer expectations, which had plummeted in August, posted a marginal gain," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "However, consumers expressed greater concern about their expected earnings, a sign that does not bode well for spending. In addition, consumers’ assessment of current conditions declined for the fifth consecutive month, a sign that the economic environment remains weak.”
Consumers’ short-term outlook, which had deteriorated sharply last month, improved slightly in September. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased to 11.3% from 11.8%, while those expecting business conditions to worsen declined to 22.6% from 24.6%.