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As Bernanke exits, 'Yellen Put' starts to take shape

Wednesday, 18 Dec 2013 | 10:11 AM ET
Janet Yellen
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Janet Yellen

Is the Federal Reserve put alive...regardless of tapering?

That's the argument some bulls are making to me. The Fed's tapering move, whether it happens today, January, or March, is, as David Lutz said, "the most telegraphed move in the Fed's history."

The economic news is improving. November Housing Starts were strong. Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization, out Monday, were also strong. Inflation is low (perhaps too low), and thanks to deficit reduction the supply of bonds for sale will drop next year-- making it easier for the Fed to reduce bond purchases.

What does the Fed need to see to begin taper?
John Ryding, RDQ Economics, weighs in on a slew of improving economic data on housing, spending and jobs. Ryding explains why he is not concerned about inflation. CNBC's Steve Liesman weighs in.

That's why many now feel the Fed will announce a modest taper in January, but will make it clear that they are still data dependent. Specifically, if the data get worse, they will adjust the taper with the implication that it could INCREASE again.

In other words, the Fed put is still very much alive. That, bulls argue, will be a major underpinning for stocks in 2014.

Elsewhere

1) The last of the 2013 IPO Mohicans has priced: AMC Entertainment (AMC), one of the world's largest movie screen chains (343 theaters with 4,937 screens), priced 18.4 million shares at $18, the low end of the $18-$20 price talk last night. They are owned by the Wanda Group, a Chinese real estate company.

2) In earnings, Lennar, one of the last of the builders to report earnings, came in at 73 cents per share well above consensus of 62 cents. Orders were up only 13 percent, below most consensus estimates. Average selling price was up 18 percent year over year.

The bottom line: Lennar's beat was on lower costs, not on higher demand.

This highlights some of the contradictions we are seeing in the housing data. For example: November single family starts are a their highest level since May 2008. The NAHB builder survey out yesterday was strong as well, the highest since August. However, mortgage applications to buy a home were lower by 6.1 percent to the lowest level of 2013.

Home builders, the market leaders in the first half of the year, have turned into the market laggards. This year, the market's big names have performed as follows:

Company percentage change

Hovnanian -21

Lennar -9

DR Horton -4

Pulte -1

Toll Brothers +3

2) Ford is down, saying it expects 2014 pretax earnings to come in below 2013's target due to projected weakness in the North American market. The auto maker is projecting 2014 earnings will total $7 to $8 billion, compared with $8.5 billion in pretax profit this year.

By CNBC's Bob Pisani

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  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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