Friday Afternoon Cheat Sheet: 3 Stories That Moved Markets

It was a good Friday for the markets this week, with all three indices posting gains and the S&P 500 closing over 1,500. This is the longest run for the index since 2004, but strong equity markets mask some mixed economic news.

At the close: DJIA: +0.51%, S&P 500: +0.54%, NASDAQ: +0.62%.

Here are three stories that helped move markets today:Bear Crossing

1) Lower production output from oil producers in the North Sea and manufacturers has brought Great Britain close to its third recession in four years. During the last three months of 2012, the economy shrank more than expected, with fourth quarter Gross Domestic Product falling 0.3 percent, according to Britain’s Office for National Statistics. This fall was greater than the 0.1 percent decline analysts had predicted, and it appears to be a sign of further bad news to come. The International Monetary Fund cut its 2013 forecast for economic growth to 1.0 percent from the 1.1 percent that was predicted last October… (Read more.)

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Money-Fixed-Rate-Loans-Refinance-Home-Loan-Cash-7137492) Sales of new single-family homes in the United States declined last month, but prices continue to receive support from low inventory levels.

According to new data released by the Commerce Department, home sales in December dropped 7.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted 369,000-unit annual rate. It was the biggest monthly drop in almost two years and well below expectations of 385,000. In comparison, sales in November were revised 21,000 units higher to a 398,000-unit annual rate… (Read more.)

3) Towards the end of last year, the Federal Reserve announced not one, but two quantitative easing programs. These two new rounds of money printing have now officially pushed the central bank’s balance sheet to a new trillion dollar level.

According to the latest statistical release, the Federal Reserve’s total assets increased $47.9 billion in the past week to hit $3.01 trillion, a fresh all-time record. Holdings of U.S. Treasury securities rose $7.8 billion to $1.697 trillion, while mortgage-backed securities in the portfolio jumped $35.6 billion to $983.17 billion. In comparison, the central bank reported total assets of $926.6 billion in the beginning of 2008, before four rounds of quantitative easing… (Read more.)

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