Macro Economic Mashup: Consumer Sentiment Improves, But Case-Shiller Continues Decline

by: Wall St. Cheat Sheet

Markets are flat this morning after macro economic news releases for consumer sentiment and housing:

Consumer Sentiment: Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Consumer Sentiment has been improving. This month the Consumer Confidence Index reflected hopes for Santa Claus, Hanukkah gelt, and plain ‘ole gifts from anywhere. The index rose to 54.1 (52 expected) from 49.9 last month.

Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said:

Consumer confidence is now at its highest level in five months, a welcome sign as we enter the holiday season. Consumers’ assessment of the current state of the economy and job market, while only slightly better than last month, suggests the economy is still expanding, albeit slowly. Expectations, the main driver of this month’s increase in confidence, are now at the highest level since May.

Case-Shiller Home Price Index: Downward Spiral

One thing’s for sure: Santa will be coming down a much less valuable chimney. The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index fell 0.7% m-o-m versus Wall Street expectations for a gain of 0.3%. Year-over-Year prices were up 0.6%, but that’s still less than Wall Street’s expectations for a 1.1% y-o-y gain.

David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s commented:

Another weak report; weaker than last month. The national index is down 1.5% from the third quarter of last year and 15 of 20 cities are down over the last 12 months. Other than Tampa, FL, there are no new lows this month but many analysts will argue that a double dip will be confirmed before Spring. While some of the bad numbers may reflect the end of the government’s tax incentive for first time home-buyers, there are other problems weighing on the housing market.