Trump said he doesn't see a recession after the bond market spooked investors and the Dow suffered its worst day of the year last week.Marketsread more
Ahead of the deadline, U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters that Huawei was a national security threat.Technologyread more
Americans now say they approve of free trade by 64%-27%, a margin of better than two to one. That's up from 57%-37% early in Trump's presidency, and 51%-41% near the end of...Politicsread more
Stocks in Asia edged up Monday afternoon as U.S. Treasury yields bounced higher after plunging last week.Asia Marketsread more
The problem with tanking equities lies elsewhere, writes Michael Ivanovitch, because traders see no end to America's unfolding trade disputes with Europe and China.World Economyread more
Beijing wants to use reforms to support a slowing economy.China Marketsread more
Trump said Cook made a "good case" that it would be difficult for Apple to pay tariffs, when Samsung does not face the same hurdle because much of its manufacturing is in...Technologyread more
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note briefly fell below the 2-year rate on Wednesday, a phenomenon in the bond market known as yield curve inversion, which is...Marketsread more
Despite aggressive strides, Waymo needs one thing before their self-driving cars become a seriously useful transportation system: people. We talked to the ones closest to it.Technologyread more
The hearing will now begin next Monday to allow time for the completion of a previous trial that revolves around former 1MDB unit SRC International, a Kuala Lumpur High Court...Asia Newsread more
"I don't want to do business at all because it is a national security threat," Trump told reporters.Technologyread more
Today's housing market belches new numbers almost hourly, and some seem counter-intuitive; that is precisely because the current housing market is driven by abnormal circumstances. Sales and prices are driven by investors, and credit is being manipulated by the Federal Reserve.
Take, for example, Tuesday's quarterly home price report from the National Association of Realtors. It shows home prices up 10.1 percent year-over-year in the last quarter of 2013. That's a big gain, but not as large as the 12.5 percent annual gain in the third quarter of 2013.
"The vast majority of homeowners have seen significant gains in equity over the past two years, which is helping the economy through increased consumer spending," said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun in a release. "At the same time, home prices have been rising faster than incomes, while mortgage interest rates are above the record lows of a year ago. This is beginning to hamper housing affordability."
Home price gains are coming down, but affordability is weakening. Shouldn't affordability be strengthening if prices are easing? No, because all-cash investors, not regular owner-occupant buyers in need of financing, are fueling the price gains. Home prices shot up so fast due to these investors, that many buyers, especially first-time buyers, were shut out of the housing market. At least, that's one contention.
"I don't really think it was driven by investors," said Richard Smith, CEO of Realogy in an interview. "Institutional investors represented a very small percentage of the market. They get a lot of the headline exposure, but they're not really having that big of an impact."
Instead, Smith argued, it is part higher interest rates, part flat income levels and a big part fast-rising prices. Those prices, he says are due to lack of inventory.
"Pricing is still reacting to demand outstripping supply, and until we see an increase in inventory, you're going to continue to see price increases that will be higher than what has been anticipated," added Smith.
Bad weather has had a big impact on new supply so far in 2014. That could mean that pent-up sellers will explode onto the market once temperatures begin to rise this spring. That is the big hope, but by no means a guarantee. The mortgage market has been a big wet blanket adding to all the recent snow and ice.
(Read more: Foreclosures could rise if Congress doesn't help)
But a thaw in credit could be coming. The latest monthly report from the Mortgage Bankers Association on credit availability found it had increased in January, at least a little.
"Overall, mortgage lenders and investors slightly expanded credit offerings in January on net, but this represented the combination of two divergent trends," said Mike Fratatoni, chief economist at MBA. "First, the market continues to adapt to the new QM [Qualified Mortgage] regulation by eliminating products that do not fit inside of the QM box. This tightening is being offset, both in the market for higher balance loans, where lenders continue to loosen terms for jumbo loans, and in the refi market, where more lenders are offering streamline refinance programs."
Buyer and seller perceptions of credit availability are also improving, according to a new report from mortgage giant Fannie Mae. A majority of consumers now believe that it is getting easier to get a mortgage, the first time in the Fannie Mae survey's three-and-a-half-year history.
(Read more: All-cash offers crushing first-time homebuyers)
"The gradual upward trend in this indicator during the last few months bodes well for the housing recovery and may be contributing to this month's increase in consumers' intention to buy rather than rent their next home," noted Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae's chief economist in a release.
Consumers in the survey also, however, expected home price gains to ease. It all throws a big wild card in the air for the spring market, historically the most busy season for home buying and selling.