National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported this morning that its Housing Market Index rose to 44 in May

May 15, 2013

The Bond markets got a boost this morning after tame inflation data and weaker than expected manufacturing data hit the wires. Throw in continuing debt woes in Europe and France falling back into a recession and you have a recipe for rising yields. Stocks, as measured by the closely watched S&P 500, closed at yet another record level yesterday of 1,650 due to the ongoing stimulus programs enacted by the U.S. Federal Reserve and a recovering economy.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that prices at the wholesale level as measured by the Producer Price Index fell by 0.7% in April due in a large part to falling energy prices. This was below the -0.5% expected and adds to the notion that as long as inflation remains tame, the Federal Reserve will continue with its easy money policies and continue to stimulate the economy.

Over in the housing markets, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported this morning that its Housing Market Index rose to 44 in May, up from the 41 reading in April and was the first increase in 2013. The improvements were seen in current sales conditions, sales expectations and traffic of prospective buyers. The NAHB noted that builders are seeing an increased sense of urgency among potential buyers as a result of thinning inventories of homes for sale, continuing affordable mortgage rates and strengthening local economies. However, readings below 50 generally indicate that builders are pessimistic about sales trends – there hasn’t been a 50 reading since April of 2006.

Manufacturing data continues to weaken and remains a sore spot for the U.S. economy. The New York Federal Reserve reported this morning that the New York State Manufacturing Index fell by 1.43 in May, down from the 3.1 reading in April and lower than the 3.5 that was expected. The general business gauge and the employment component also declined. Any readings below zero indicate that respondents see conditions getting worse than better.