Markets are in the red on Friday as investors snatch profits after four days of rapid gains. Earnings reports from Citigroup and Bank of America were better than expected, but the former was boosted by its sale of Smith Barney, and the latter was lifted from selling its large stake in a Chinese bank ― one-time gains that don’t provide optimism looking ahead. Earnings from General Electric were better than expected, but markets put more emphasis on its revenue, which dropped 17% in Q2.
Two hours into the session the S&P 500 is trading 0.49% lower at 936, but on the week it remains up 6.58%. The NASDAQ Composite is 0.45% lower this morning at 1877, but since Monday the index has rebounded 6.90%. The Dow is roughly flat today but its 5-day gain is 6.83%.
The only major data to be released today was the Housing Starts report at 8:30, which analysts at IHS Global Insight called “the most positive housing report in ages.”
New construction of private homes advanced by 3.6% in June, sending the annual rate of housing starts to 582,000, a 7-month high. That pace is 46% below the level 12 months ago, but many analysts were hopeful that stabilization is the housing market has begun, with possible recovery on the way.
“The surprising strength in June housing starts suggests homebuilders are finally seeing the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel,” noted economist Sal Guatieri from BMO Capital Markets. “For the first time since late 2005, residential construction stands a reasonable chance of contributing to economic growth in the second half of the year.”
Less optimistic were the latest unemployment figures for each state. The unemployment rate in Michigan hit 15.2% in June ― the highest rate of any state in the past 25 years.
Second worse in the nation was Rhode Island with a 12.4% rate, followed by a 12.2% jobless rate in Oregon. The two latest states to enter double-digit rates were Georgia and Alabama.
As reported two weeks ago, the economy shed 467,000 jobs last month, pushing the national unemployment rate to 9.5% ― the highest rate in 26 years.