Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Strong Housing Data Helps Push Markets Higher

By Matt Thalman – May 8, 2013 at 7:00AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Lower delinquency rates and an increase in mortgage and refinancing applications give investors confidence.

According to TransUnion's quarterly delinquency report, the national rate of loans more than 60 days past due fell 21% in the first quarter over the same time frame last year. The decline was the largest that TransUnion has seen since it began tracking data in 1992 on both a quarter-over-quarter and a year-over-year basis.  

Additionally, weekly mortgage and refinancing data shows that applications rose by 7% last week compared to the prior reading. Although most of the increase is coming from refinancing, that information combined with the lower delinquency rate, indicates that homeowners are in a better financial place today than they were even a year ago.

This positive news has given investors the confidence to continue pushing the markets higher today. As of 12:45 p.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) is up 8 points, or 0.06%, while the S&P 500 is higher by 3.56 points, or 0.22%. But, the big index winner so far today is the NASDAQ, which is up 0.34%.

A few Dow losers
Despite posting strong quarterly results last night, shares of Walt Disney (DIS 0.98%) are trading lower by 1.21% this afternoon. The stock jumped higher by 1.55% yesterday going into the announcement, and most of that gain has been given back with today's decline. Disney's revenue for the quarter came in at $10.55 billion, while analysts were expecting $10.49 billion, and earnings per share hit $0.79 compared to estimates of $0.77. With these results, it's hard to figure out why shares are falling today, but when we look back at the performance that Disney's shares have realized over the past few months, today's decline may just be investors taking money off the table.  

Shares of Coca-Cola (KO -0.22%) are off by more than 1% today after the company announced its anti-obesity campaign this morning. Coke will offer more lower-calorie options and provide more calorie labels on its products. Additionally, Coke has again pledged not to advertise to children under the age of 12. But this move is not something new; back in 2007, Coke already made that announcement. Investors may not like these changes, as it may affect profits, but a healthier population which lives longer, can drink more Coke over time.  

Another company that has been battling the obesity issue and is falling today is McDonald's (MCD 0.65%). Shares are down 1.04% after the company announced that key sales figures fell again in April. The company is blaming fears of the avian flu as reason for the weak performance in China. Sales fell 0.6% globally in April, even though the U.S. market increased by 0.7%. But the largest decline came from Europe, were sales dropped 2.4% during the month. 

Fool contributor Matt Thalman owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Coca-Cola, McDonald's, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of McDonald's and Walt Disney. Check back Monday through Friday as Matt explains what caused the Dow's winners and losers of the day, and every Saturday for a weekly recap. Follow Matt on Twitter: @mthalman5513.  We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.