Stocks mostly weaker today. Two factors:
1) concern the Fed's period of rate cuts is coming to an end (on this, commodities and commodity stocks are down, dollar is rallying), and
2) the dismal new-home sales number, at a 16-year low. No sign of a bottom here: unsold inventories remain at multi-decade highs. Prices dropped 13.3 percent from the same month last year, but evidently will have to drop more.
Not surprisingly, home builders had little good to say. RylandGroup and Pulte Homes reported. Ryland, for example, did reduce the number of spec homes they have, but revenues and margins came in lower than expected.
Similar story with Pulte: they reduced the spec homes, but the company has a lot of land exposure, and a lot of general exposure to Florida. They reported a huge charge (over $600 million) because the value of land they hold had dropped. Orders continue to be weak, and there are still clear signs of price deflation.
The Shanghai composite, after hitting a 52-week low this week, rose 9 percent today. Shanghai rallied after the Chinese government cut the stamp tax. Don't kid yourself though -- there's already some signs that exports are slowing: Hong Kong exports rose 7.6 percent, vs. expectations of 11.7 percent.
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