Monday's Market: Watching Europe

by: Markos Kaminis

The European debt crisis hits home Monday, literally, with President Obama meeting with European officials in Washington on the matter. The issue continues to weigh heavily for American markets as many, including Barron’s Columnist Michael Santoli in this week’s column, are openly pondering if Europe is nearing its Lehman moment. In today’s entangled marketplace, the possible collapse of the euro zone concerns all of us.

The day’s market moving news keys on the international, with the meeting with the Europeans atop the list. Otherwise, there’s a United Nations conference scheduled in South Africa on the topic of greenhouse gases. The OECD will publish its latest economic outlook, and in the firestorm that is currently Egypt, revolutionaries will take part in the first round of parliamentary elections.

The week ahead is full of housing data, and the stream starts Monday with the New Home Sales Report for October. Existing Home Sales were reported last week for the same month, and offered little new information. The much larger previously owned home market saw its annual pace of sales increase a bit, to 4.97 million, up from 4.91 million in September. Still, the level of activity represented a 13.5% better environment than the year before. Followers of this column should not be surprised by the year-over-year growth reported since the mid-point of this year, as we forecasted it early.

The New Home Sales market is significantly smaller, but it still offers important information for both the real estate market and for housing stock investors. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg see the annual pace of Home Sales at about the same level in October as it was in September, basically offering the same message communicated by the Existing Home Sales data. Simply put, we’re stuck in the muck. Based on what I see developing for the global economy, I find nothing in the latest housing data to question my view on housing. Though even if I did, I would remind the reader that the global economy will determine this factor's direction this time around, in my view.

The New Home Sales forecast developed through Bloomberg’s survey is for an annual sales pace of 310K in October, down slightly from the 313K pace reported in September. The economists’ range of forecasts spans from 300K to 320K, or perfectly around that consensus view. September’s sales were 5.7% greater than in August, but 0.9% lower than last year. They’ve held around the 300K mark all year, which may simply indicate a sort of treading of water for the market. A rate of sales significantly higher than last month’s mark seems unlikely, but if it does happen, I would warn homebuilder longs to focus on the short-term only and take profits on long-term interests before too long. My global macroeconomic concerns dictate this, as relayed in recent articles Real Estate’s Ironic Salvation and Homebuilders and their Shareholders are Drinking the Kool-Aid.

The corporate wire has China Mass Media (NYSE: CMM) with a scheduled 1-for-10 reverse stock split. The earnings schedule highlights news from Hillenbrand (NYSE: HI), Copart (Nasdaq: CPRT), Thor Industries (NYSE: THO), Ralcorp (NYSE: RAH), China Cord Blood (NYSE: CO), China Metro-Rural (AMEX: CNR), China Nepstar Chain Drugstore (NYSE: NPD), G. Willifood Int’l (Nasdaq: WILC) and Taomee Holdings (Nasdaq: TAOM).

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.