After the Fed released minutes of its last meeting, the bond market signaled it fears the Fed will not be aggressive enough with its rate cutting.Market Insiderread more
The Fed minutes also note that "a couple" members wanted a 50 basis point cut, based primarily on the weak inflation readings.The Fedread more
The inversion is seen by many veteran traders as an important recession omen, though the timing on the eventual downturn is less predictable.Bondsread more
Here's what Nordstrom reported for its fiscal second-quarter earnings.Retailread more
The sexy image that once boosted Victoria's Secret has been haunting L Brands more recently, as women are steering clear of the brand's hot pink, lacy and bejeweled lingerie.Retailread more
See which stocks are posting big moves after the bell.Market Insiderread more
"I'd love to say that the optimistic universe is most likely to prevail, but the talking heads talk endlessly about how a recession is inevitable," CNBC's Jim Cramer says.Mad Money with Jim Cramerread more
Read the fine print in your Apple Card contract — one clause means you give up your right to be heard in court.Technologyread more
Federal Reserve members worried over future growth are highly concerned about the U.S.-China tariff battleThe Fedread more
President Donald Trump signed a memorandum on Wednesday to automatically cancel the student loan debt of disabled veterans. More than 25,000 service members will have their...Personal Financeread more
Jim Nussle, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget, told CNBC on Wednesday that a strong U.S. consumer is the only thing keeping the country from recession.Marketsread more
The huge drop in gasoline prices is just the boost the housing market needs heading into 2015. Not only are they padding people's pocketbooks, they're fueling consumer confidence. That may already be translating into more home sales.
"Anything that impacts anyone's monthly budget so significantly as the cost of gasoline will tend to make them feel better about moving up, buying a new home," said Maggie Parker of Comstock Homes. "Our traffic is very high, and sales are quite good especially during the typically slow December season, so it has had a very positive impact on the confidence of our buyers."
Parker, standing at one of her company's construction sites in the D.C. suburb of Rockville, Maryland, said that while lower gas prices may juice overall home sales, she does not expect to see the so-called exurbs reinvigorated. The drive toward more dense urban cores is more for social reasons than economic ones.
The economics for home buying, however, are clear. Analysts at Deutsche Bank estimate that the 23 percent decline in gas prices adds about $100 in monthly income for the average American. That, in turn, translates to an 11 percent boost in purchasing power on a starter home. Mortgage rates have also fallen in response to lower oil prices, which the analysts say could add an additional 7 percent purchasing power.
"For most Americans it's a huge tax break," said Richard Dugas, CEO of Atlanta-based Pulte Homes. "If you think about the consumer confidence impact, the thing that really drives housing is how people feel, and when they have more money in their pocket they feel better."
Dugas also said he is not concerned about the oil-heavy Texas housing market, where Pulte has a large footprint. He said the company is well-diversified and could take that local hit. The CEOs of both Pennsylvania-based Toll Bros and New Jersey-based K Hovnanian also expressed little concern about their Texas communities, in conference calls with analysts last week.
The Texas housing market has outshined the rest of the nation in recovery, with home prices in Houston and Dallas reaching record highs this year. While much of that is driven by employment in the energy sector, many nonenergy-related companies have moved either headquarters or workers into the state. Technology and financial services companies, in particular, have been moving workers to Texas, such as Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade, and there are reports Google is eyeing a position there as well. State Farm is building a huge campus north of Dallas.
"Texas has an economic resiliency beyond energy that will help offset any significant downward movement in home prices for these markets over the next year," said Stefan Hilts, a director at Fitch Ratings.
Home prices have jumped so high in Texas recently that Austin and Houston top Fitch's list of the most over-valued housing markets in the nation. They expect prices to come down with the loss of energy-related jobs, but not enough to cause major damage in the market.
One savings that will favor bigger builders over smaller operators is in the cost of building-related products. Everything from PVC pipe to asphalt to shingles to paint—they are all petroleum-based. Lower oil prices will mean big savings for products manufacturers.
"Unfortunately we don't expect to see that trickle down to us. As a local mid-Atlantic builder, we don't have the huge volume to negotiate based on that price," Comstock Homes' Parker said.
Larger builders may be able to negotiate, however, especially if oil prices remain low for a long time.
"The products guys will charge whatever they can get away with, but to the extent their own costs aren't going up as much I think, they will pass on better prices to the home builders, which maybe will allow them to build more homes at the median price," said John Burns of John Burns Real Estate Consulting.