Pending Home Sales | Consumer confidence retreated | How the “Other half” lives

December 27, 2017

Pending home sales squeaked out a minor gain in November on a monthly and annualized basis, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 0.2 percent to 109.5 in November from 109.3 in October. The index remains at its highest reading since June (110.0), and is now 0.8 percent above 2016. The 3.4-month supply of existing homes for sale on the market is the lowest since NAR began tracking inventory in 1999. A 6-month supply is considered normal. Heading into 2018, existing-home sales and price growth are forecast to slow, primarily because of the altered tax benefits of homeownership affecting some high-cost areas.

Consumer Confidence retreated in December after reaching a 17-year high in November. The Consumer Confidence Survey® monthly report reflects prevailing business conditions and likely developments for the months ahead and details consumer attitudes and buying intentions. The decline was fueled by a less optimistic outlook for business and job prospects in the coming months. Despite the decline in confidence, consumers’ expectations remain at historically strong levels, suggesting economic growth will continue well into 2018.

And now for how the “other half” lives. The world’s wealthiest became $1 trillion richer in 2017 with a 23 percent increase in fortunes from 2016, bringing their cumulative total to $5.3 trillion. That’s according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world’s 500 richest people. The increase was more than four times last year’s gain. Inc. founder Jeff Bezos added the most in 2017, a $34,2 billion gain that knocked Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates out of his spot as the world’s richest person, which he’s held since May 2013. The U.S. has the largest presence on the index with 159 billionaires. China has 38 billionaires on the index, a 65 percent increase that marks the biggest gain of the 49 countries represented. Tech moguls number 57 billionaires on the index, the most of any sector.