Today we celebrate that sometimes creamy, sometimes chunky goodness known as peanut butter. We love it so much we eat it straight out of the jar. We’re not the only fans. The average American consumes about six pounds of the viscous legumes each year.
For the average American, their home is their biggest asset. That made this an important week, as most of its economic news was of the housing variety. The week started with another Monday with many Americans staying in their biggest asset, this time to celebrate Martin Luther King Day.
Therefore, there was nothing to report until Tuesday when the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) released its January Housing Market Index (HMI). January’s reading came in at 57, after December’s upwardly revised 58. While this is a one point drop, it’s as profound as Miley Cyrus realizing there’s no “T” in Schwarzenegger because anything above 50 suggests expansion and this is the seventh month in a row above 50.
The housing data kept its pace on Wednesday with the Census Bureau’s December Housing Starts Index, which made the now bankrupt SkyMall wish it didn’t try to solicit so many home builders to install its $50 Night Glow Toilet Seat. The Housing Start Index showed that housing starts increased 4.4 percent after November’s 4.5 percent decline and is a good sign for toilet seat maker American Standard.
This is interesting news for the money conscious for three reasons. First, most of the gains were in single-family homes for the first time in seven years. This suggests individual consumer confidence, likely due to a combination of cheap gas and employment improvements. Second, December is typically a slow month due to the holidays and the weather. This suggests demand despite seasonal obstacles. Finally, housing permits, the precursor to housing starts, declined 1.9 percent, after November’s 3.7 percent decrease. This suggests there’s not a lot of forward momentum for positive housing start news.
On Thursday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released it’s November House Price Index (HPI). It showed an increase of 0.8 percent after October’s downwardly revised 0.4 percent increase. The only thing more super fab than this bit of increased coinage for Americans is the super fab Weir & Lipinski duoing for Super Bowl Sunday.
Wrapping up the week and the year’s housing data was the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) December Existing Home Sales Index, which increased 2.4 percent, after November’s 6.3 percent decline. This, too, was led by single-family homes, while condos declined. For the year, this index deflated like Tom Brady’s balls and fell 3.1 percent, the first drop in four years.
Next Tuesday, the Census Bureau will release its New Home Sales Index, which is expected to be positive. With the positive news in housing, our opinion is that now may be the time to enter the housing market if you need a new home. Spring will expose housing’s true direction, which may be a bit late for early birds. If you’re contemplating buying or selling, now may be a good time to enter the housing market, but be choosy, choosy as moms who choose Jif.
The anomalistic report of the week was the Conference Board’s December Index of Leading Indicators. It increased for the fourth straight month. Its projection for the next three to six months increased 0.5 percent, after November’s downwardly revised 0.4 percent increase.
All in all, it was a good, holiday shortened week in economic news and stock market gains. On the heels of the previous week’s release of the National Federation of Independent Business’s December Small Business Optimism Index, which increased 2.3 percent over November and reached it’s highest point since October 2006, 2015 looks like a promising year for most Americans.
If this trend continues, we may revise our weekly advice to save and invest extra savings. For the time being, we’re sticking with our recommendation. Our concerns remain low wages and European deflation of the economic kind.
Finally, we’ve received great responses on our just released book 4: The Four Principles of a Debt Free Life. If you haven’t purchased your copy, you must. If you know someone who needs a copy, buy them one. We strongly believe this is a great book to help everyone get their finances in order. These four principles helped us and we know they can help you.
That’s this week’s Money Conscious Mash Up. Come back each week when we highlight what we think you need to know to be money conscious the next week.