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David Becker

US stocks were mixed on Wednesday after initially rising, but the Dow and S&P moved into the red and remain underwater for the latter half of the trading session. The Nasdaq broke a 4-day losing streak driven by the FANG stocks which outperform. The Russell 200 was the worst-performing average declining by 1.2%. Oil prices were under significant pressure falling 3%, as concerns over the coronavirus continued to weigh on energy. All sectors in the S&P 500 index were lower driven down by Energy, Healthcare was the worst-performing sector. US home sales surged higher rising nearly 8%, driven by rising mortgage applications. The VIX volatility index slipped slightly but still remain buoyed above 27%.

US Home Sales Rise

The commerce department reported that US single-family homes raced to a 12-year high in January. New home sales jumped 7.9% to an annual rate of 764,000 units last month, the highest level since July 2007. December’s sales pace was revised up to 708,000 units from the previously reported 694,000 units. Expectations had been for new home sales, which account for about 12.3% of housing market sales, which would advance 3.5% to a pace of 710,000 units in January. New home sales jumped 30.3% in the Midwest to their highest level since October 2007.

The gain in home sales was driven by rising mortgage application volume which rose 1.5% last week from the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances decreased to 3.73% from 3.77%, with points decreasing to 0.27 from 0.28. Applications to refinance a home loan fell 1% for the week but were still 152% higher than a year ago.


Energy Inventories Rose

US crude oil inventories increased by 500 thousand barrels from the previous week. At 443.3 million barrels, crude oil inventories are about 3% below the five year average for this time of year. Gasoline inventories decreased by 2.7 million barrels last week and are about 2% above the five year average for this time of year. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 2.1 million barrels last week and are about 5% below the five year average for this time of year.

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