Overdrive Extra

Max Heine

Consumer confidence and housing

| May 26, 2009

Your freight might be down, your dog might be snarling at you, but your fellow Americans are looking up, money-wise. At least relative to recent months, which isn’t saying too much.

U.S. consumer confidence jumped in May to its highest level in eight months, according to the Conference Board, an industry group that measures this. It was the biggest one-month jump since April 2003.

Likewise, the government’s Index of Leading Economic Indicators saw its first rise in seven months, 1 percent, in April.  

For a more sobering assessment, consider what Tavio Headley, economist with the American Trucking Associations, reported Friday for residential construction. He said new housing starts plunged 13 percent in April, the lowest level since the government started compiling statistics in 1959. This was due to a 46 percent drop in multi-family housing starts. Single-family home construction actually rose a bit from the prior month.  

One final note, also on housing, is that the continuing turmoil in construction is reflected in housing prices. The S&P/Case-Shiller National Home Price index plunged a record 19 percent during the first quarter compared with the first three months of 2008. And that came after an 18 percent drop last quarter.

If you’re a first-time buyer with good credit, there’s got to be some killer deals out there for you.

– Max Heine

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