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February 26, 2008 at 01:55 AM EST
Stocks Rise on ABK MBIA AAA Rating?
A consortium of banks has largely finalized a deal to re-capitalize troubled bond insurer Ambac Financial Group and is now trying to sell the plan to the rating agencies to save Ambac's triple-A rating. MBIA, the world's largest bond insurer fighting to hang on to its top-notch rating, said Monday it is eliminating its quarterly dividend in a move expected to save the company $174 million a year. Monday Headline: "Stocks Rise" on the Worst Housing Market "Since the Great Depression"? By Robert Folsom of Elliottwave The major stock indexes closed higher on Monday (Feb. 25). Please humor me and read the bulleted list below -- it's about the latest housing data. My reason for including the figures will be obvious shortly. * Existing home sales in January fell to the lowest number since recordkeeping began (1999) * Sales of condos and co-ops declined 6.5% * Since the June 2006 peak, existing home sales have declined 34% * The inventory of unsold homes increased 5.5%, to a 10.3-month supply * The U.S. median home price in January was $201,100, down 4.6% from a year ago * The January price slide was the sixth in the past seven months * Since the June 2006 peak, existing home prices have fallen 13% * Reuters reported that the U.S. housing market "is in the worst downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s." Now, all this data sums up a clear-enough picture of the housing trend. It's uniformly bad. If your home's value stands anywhere near today's median price, you are approximately $30,000 poorer than you were 20 months ago. So why spell all this out? Heck, everyone knows the housing situation is ugly, with or without reading the particulars. My reason for putting the facts before you begins with this quote, which was typical of what stock market stories were saying around 11:00am this morning: "Stocks held onto a small gain Monday amid better than expected housing data." Never mind that by mid-afternoon the S&P 500 had slipped into negative territory. It's the "better than expected" idea which makes this notion a pile of rubbish. The "better" was 4.89 million home sales in January, vs. the "expected" 4.81 million consensus estimate of economists. In other words, we're supposed to believe that investors ignored the facts about the housing market and instead decided to buy stocks because home sales declined 0.08 less than the big educated guess offered by economists. Click here to receive Free for a Limited Time, the "Elliottwave Theorist".
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