The U.S. equity markets were floating comfortably in positive territory on Thursday afternoon following a battery of positive economic news.
At 12:35 p.m.: DJIA: +0.67%, S&P 500: +0.49%, NASDAQ: +0.61%.
1) After logging impressive gains last year, homebuilders continue to climb higher as housing starts in December were stronger than expected.
According to the Commerce Department, builders broke ground on houses at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 954,000 units last month, representing a 12.1 percent increase above the revised November estimate of 851,000. It is the highest pace of housing starts since mid-2008… (Read more.)
2) Lenders repossessed fewer homes in 2012 than in 2011, pursuing alternatives to foreclosures following government mortgage settlements with large U.S. banks and harsher state laws.
RealtyTrac’s year-end Foreclosure Market Report for 2012 showed that foreclosure filings, including default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions, were made on a total of 1.8 million properties last year, down 3 percent from 2011 and more than 36 percent from a 2010 peak of 2.9 million properties… (Read more.)