Dow Jones Today Rising as Home Price Growth Slows

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) was up 32 points, to 16,239, at 1:30 p.m. EST after mixed reports on the housing market and consumer confidence. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) was up two point to 1,850.

There were three U.S. economic releases today.

Report

Period

Result

Previous

S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Home Price Index

December

0.8%

0.9%

FHFA House Price Index

December

0.8%

0.1%

Consumer confidence index

February

78.1

79.4

The home price indices are the ones to pay attention to today. The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Home Price Index and the Federal Housing Finance Agency House Prince Index both rose a seasonally adjusted 0.8% in December. That's down from November's 0.9% gain for the Case-Shiller and up from November's 0.1% decrease for the FHFA. On a nonseasonally adjusted basis, FHFA home prices were basically flat, up from November's 0.5% drop, while the Case-Shiller composite was down 0.1%, unchanged from November.

Source: S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

With the slow gains, home prices are still up over the past 12 months. The Case-Shiller is up 13.4% year over year and the FHFA index is up 7.7%. Home price appreciation generally slows in the winter months, as fewer people move, and then picks up in the spring and summer. Still, 13.4% is the fastest annual growth since 2005 and brings U.S. home prices closer to the highs hit in 2006. Home prices are not expected to keep rising so quickly in 2014, as higher mortgage rates and increased supply start to slow home-price appreciation.

While the Dow and home prices were little moved, Home Depot (NYSE: HD  ) is leading the Dow higher today, up 3.1% to $80.27, after its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings report. The home improvement retailer reported quarterly earnings per share of $0.73, better than analysts' expectation of $0.71. Revenue had been expected to hit $17.9 billion, but was down 3% year over year to $17.7 billion. The terrible winter was partly to blame, but Home Depot should see some benefit from the tough weather in the spring and summer as people repair their properties.

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