These are the stocks posting the largest moves before the bell.Market Insiderread more
Target beats second-quarter earnings expectations thanks to an increase in traffic and sales. The retailer also boosts its full-year estimates.Retailread more
Corporate debt recently passed the $1 trillion mark in a continuing sign of global financial displacement.Marketsread more
Trump said he has "been thinking about payroll taxes for a long time" — and he cautioned that "whether or not we do something now, it's not being done because of recession."Politicsread more
Fitbit is hoping to shift its business model from relying on hardware sales to selling health plans and governments on software and services.Technologyread more
Lowe's also tops rival Home Depot on same-store sales growth in the U.S.Retailread more
"As long as the trade situation remains fluid, it will present an additional layer of uncertainty and complexity as we plan our business," Target CEO Brian Cornell said.Retailread more
Hedge funds are steering away from battered tech and semiconductor stocks, while bottom-fishing in health care names, according to Goldman Sachs.Marketsread more
President Donald Trump said on Twitter he was postponing a scheduled meeting with Denmark's prime minister because of her lack of interest in discussing a possible sale of...World Politicsread more
Dow to open higher; strong retail earnings; Gundlach says Fed lost control; negative-yielding corporate debt soars; and Trump on payroll tax cutMarketsread more
After a rush on refinances, homeowners took a breather last week, despite still seeing the lowest interest rates in about three years.Real Estateread more
Builders claim they're feeling better about their business, but the sales numbers are still not reflecting that. So all eyes are on the spring market, which could determine the fate of both the stocks and the earnings of the biggest builders.
Sales of newly built homes fell sharply in January, down nearly 7 percent month to month and down 4 percent compared with January 2018, according to the U.S. Census. This was a surprise, as builder sentiment jumped in January, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
"We all know that the pace of housing transactions has slowed to no growth as high home prices combined with higher mortgage rates froze behavior," said Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group. "Now with the latter seeing relief, the next few months are big in measuring the state of the industry and consumer taste for big-ticket, life-altering decisions."
The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage jumped more than 5 percent in November but fell back in December. It continued falling in January and has now settled around 4.5 percent, according to Mortgage News Daily. Mortgage applications to purchase a home, however, are basically flat compared with a year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Sales of existing homes appear to be picking up, but new homes come at a price premium, and today's buyers are already stretched financially.
The price of a newly built home sold in January did decline 3.8 percent, but that was more due to a shift in the mix of homes selling, not builders reducing prices. About 37 percent of sales were of homes just below the median price, a far greater share than a year ago, when only 27 percent of sales were below the median.
"Although existing home buyers are capitalizing on the recent decline in mortgage rates, it didn't spark buyer interest in new homes in January," said Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com. "Given the rising cost pressures builders are facing, this could suggest continued difficulty for new homes and new construction ahead."
The supply of newly built homes also rose to a three-month high, and analysts report a growing number of so-called "spec" homes, or homes being built without buyers. During the housing crash, builders were only building homes that already had buyers under contract. As sales weaken, builders could be sitting on more unsold homes, which will cost them in both taxes and maintenance.
The data on new home sales is volatile, according to the Census itself, and a three-month average puts sales at the highest level since June. Both sales and construction, however, are well below historical norms, and demand has been incredibly sensitive recently to interest rates. While builders report strong expectations for sales over the next six months, they are also reporting disappointing buyer traffic through their model homes.