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US Stock Market Overview – Stocks Drop and Finish the Worst Quarter Since 2008

Housing prices remain buoyed
David Becker

US stocks moved lower on lower on Tuesday helping to notch up the worst quarter since 2008. The S&P 500 was down 20% for the quarter while the Dow industrials have fallen 24% on track for their worst decline since 1987. The worst performing sector year to date is energy which has declined more than 50%. Oil prices edged higher on Tuesday after falling below $20 per barrel on Monday. Despite a drop in the S&P 500 index on the final day of the quarter, the VIX volatility index dropped by more than 3%, which could be a good sign for market bulls. Most sectors in the S&P 500 index were lower, led down by real-estate which dropped nearly 5%, energy shares bucked the trend.

Consumer confidence dropped to 120 in March down from 132.6 in February. While home prices in January remained robust, Pending home sales in February rose more than expected. It’s unlikely that home sales rose in March but the rapid decline in mortgage rates likely helped buoy the housing market.

Consumer Confidence Drops; But Home Prices Rise

The Conference Board reported that its consumer confidence index dropped to 120 this month from 132.6 in February. Home prices were seeing even bigger gains in January than all of last year, but that was before the coronavirus hit the U.S., shutting down much of the economy and the housing market. Nationally, home prices rose 3.9% annually, up from 3.7% in December, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices. The 10-City Composite showed an increase of 2.6%, up from 2.3% in the previous month. The 20-City Composite posted a 3.1% annual gain, up from 2.8% in the previous month.

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Pending Home Sales Rise

Pending home sales, rose a stronger-than-expected 2.4% in February compared with January. Sales were up a steep 9.4% annually, according to the National Association of Realtors. That is the highest pace in exactly three years.

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