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HBSDealer Stock Watch: Reversal of Fortune

BY HBSDealer Staff

The Bears were running on Wall Street Tuesday, as 24 out of 30 hardware and building supply stocks retreated. The decliners included DOOR, down 4.2%; UFPI, down 3.5%; and AWI, down 2.3%.

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Home prices pick up the pace

BY HBSDealer Staff

Housing experts are increasing their expectations for home price appreciation as rising prices show no signs of slowing.

Experts expect home prices to climb 4.1% in 2018, according to the 2017 Q4 Zillow Home Price Expectations Suervey, an increase in their expectations for 2018. One year ago, experts predicted home prices would grow 3% in 2018.

The quarterly survey, sponsored by Zillow and conducted by Pulsenomics LLC, asked more than 100 housing experts, market strategists, and economists about their expectations for the U.S. housing market in 2018 and beyond.

According to Zillow, the number of homes for sale has fallen on an annual basis for the past 33 straight months. Although building activity picked up slightly toward the end of the year, the biggest surprise of the 2017 housing market was the slow pace of single-family home building, according to the panelists. Only 16.7% expect it to change in 2018, a sign that limited inventory will still be a driving force in the housing market next year. 

Experts believe 2017's low mortgage rates are likely to rise next year to around 4.5% from the current rate of about 3.9%. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate has hovered around historical lows for years, and is well below the 6% rates seen during the run up to the housing bubble.

"The American labor market is stronger than it's been in decades and Americans, particularly young Americans, are increasingly feeling confident enough to buy homes," said Zillow senior economist Aaron Terrazas. "Home building has not kept pace with this surge in demand and remains well below historical norms. We don't expect that these demand-supply imbalances will fundamentally shift in 2018: Demand will continue to grow and, though supply should increase somewhat, we still won't build enough new homes to meet this demand, contributing to higher prices. Higher mortgage rates will eat into buyers' budgets, putting even more price pressure on the most affordable homes for sale. Unless there is a fundamental shift in the number and type of homes for sale, this is the new normal of the American housing market."

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Stanley chooses Hartford for ‘Smart Factory’ initiative

BY Andy Carlo

Stanley Black & Decker will open an Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence in downtown Hartford, Conn., to accelerate its Global Industry 4.0 "Smart Factory" initiative.

Called "Manufactory 4.0," named after the original Stanley Bolt Manufactory founded in 1843, the 23,000-sq.-ft. center will be located at One Constitution Plaza and will employ approximately 50 “industry 4.0” professionals.

The company has appointed Sudhi Bangalore, most recently WIPRO's global head of Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 Solutions, to lead the center. The company is also launching an additive manufacturing accelerator with Techstars that will be housed at the new facility.

Manufactory 4.0 will serve as the epicenter for the latest technologies and processes with respect to Industry 4.0, according to Don Allan, CFO for Stanley Black & Decker.

“Just as Connecticut was at the heart of the first three Industrial Revolutions and has continued to have a strong manufacturing presence, we believe that the state has the potential to be a leader for what is often called the Fourth Industrial Revolution — the automation of manufacturing that includes the internet of things, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, 3-D printing, robotics and advanced materials,” Allan said.

"Strong urban cores, and in particular a vibrant capital city, are essential to Connecticut's ability to thrive which is why we decided to locate this important new initiative in Hartford," said Jim Loree, Stanley Black & Decker's president and CEO.

"Our team has worked closely with Mayor Bronin's office, and we are excited to be a part of building a vibrant, strong capital city,” Loree said. “With the budget now passed, the hard work can begin to solve some of the state's structural fiscal challenges and put the state on a more sound economical path. We cannot lose the sense of urgency and must recognize that the state is at a critical juncture. As a company founded in New Britain, Conn., almost 175 years ago, we have expressed our commitment from a social responsibility perspective to being part of the solution."

Bangalore will serve as Stanley Black & Decker's VP of Industry 4.0, reporting to Allan. Prior to serving in his current role at WIPRO, Bangalore was the company's global practice head for industrial automation. He has held operations and business unit manager leadership roles across a number of technology companies, including Danaher Corporation, Siemens, and Rockwell Automation.

Stanley Black & Decker currently operates approximately 30 manufacturing facilities in the U.S., including three in Connecticut, with more than 100 manufacturing facilities globally.

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