The World to Iran: Stop creating nuclear bomb fuel and we will trade with you again (and not make jokes about your mother). Deal? The six most powerful countries in the world (led by the U.S.) struck a deal with Iran over the weekend. For the next six months, the Middle East nation with a bigger chip on its shoulder than A-Rod agreed to stop enriching weapons-grade uranium in exchange for the lifting of some major economic sanctions. The news is supposed to coax Iran back to the international economic playground. It's time for some Foursquare.
Iran will get to import some automobile equipment and trade precious metals, so Iranian rappers can finally flash their grilles while rolling in their Escalades? Iran will also receive some sizable funds that have been frozen in bank accounts. In all, the sanction slash is valued at $7 billion worth of economic benefits.
But Wall Street is focused on that there oil. Iran's sitting on the earth's overactive oil bladder, and some investors took the news to mean that Iran would flood the markets with the slick stuff -- even though sanctions on oil were not lifted as part of the deal.
So oil companies shed black tears. This deal moves Iran slightly out of the economic penalty box, which could ultimately lead to more oil exports from the legendary pumps of Tehran (higher supplies would mean lower prices). Crude oil prices quickly dropped 2%, and energy companies that love charging high rates for oil fell as a result.
Airlines thrust Tiger Woods-style fist pumps at the prospect of lower oil prices (you're welcome for the shout-out, Tiger). If fuel prices drop, their costs will dip as well, leading to higher profits. This simplest of economic principles led Delta Airlines (NYSE:DAL) stock to rise 2% and United Continental (NYSE:UAL) to gain a Concorde-worthy 3.4%.
Housing data is like broccoli. Sure, it's not as tasty as Facebook's earnings report, but you know that digesting it is good for you. And this week is packed with more housing data than the greens that mom used to saturate your dinner plate with. Monday was all about "pending home sales" -- a monthly measurement by the National Association of Realtors on housing sales in which the contract has been signed but the deal hasn't been closed.
How they lookin'? Not great in October. Pending home sales fell for the fifth straight month, for two reasons. First, the government shutdown took a bunch of buyers temporarily out of the market. And second, even though interest rates have been kept low to encourage borrowing, as the economic recovery has improved over 2013, some rates have drifted a bit higher -- just enough to limit some potential home-buyers from snagging mortgages.
The takeaway is that the housing market that slammed the economy in '08 finally has been steadily improving since 2011. Not only has Wall Street seen the upward trend in rising housing prices and sales, but Americans have also been out buying home-improvement-style stuff from Home Depot and Lowe's, boosting both companies' bottom lines. Investors will be looking to the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index Tuesday for more insights.
- November's Consumer Confidence survey
- The aforementioned S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index
As Originally Published on MarketSnacks.com
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