U.S. housing starts declined 2.6% to an annual rate of 1.25 million units in January. Homebuilding is up 10.5% from January 2016. Single-family homes, which accounts for the largest share of the residential housing market, climbed 1.9%. The volatile multi-family housing segment starts tumbled 10.2%. Permits for future construction jumped 4.6% for the month to a rate of 1.29 million units, the highest level since November 2015. Builders continue to grapple with shortages of skilled labor. (Commerce Department)
Industrial production contracted in January, weighed down by a sharp decline in utilities, a move that is more reflective of the weather than economic activity. Manufacturing grew 0.2% and mining, which includes oil and gas, jumped an impressive 2.8%. (LPL Research)
Kraft Heinz a U.S. food company which owns Heinz Ketchup and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese has made an offer to merge with Dutch consumer goods company Unilever in a deal worth an estimated $125 billion. Unilever owns brand names Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Knorr soups. Unilever has declined the proposal. (Reuters)
Join us the weekend for Financial Focus Radio when we will tackle the question … … “when will this bull market end?”
S&P 500 is down 6 and the NASDAQ is down 10. MSCI International Index is lower.
Oil is down 25 cents at $53.10 a barrel.
Gold is up $3 at $1244 a Troy ounce.