Monday Afternoon Cheat Sheet: 3 Stories that Moved Markets

The markets closed on a mixed note on Monday, with the S&P just a fraction above 1,500. Early in the day, Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) gave the markets a bump with its strong fourth-quarter earnings, but housing data seemed to overshadow optimism.

At the close: DJIA: -0.10%, S&P 500: -0.18%, NASDAQ: +0.15%.

Here are three stories that moved markets today:Money-Fixed-Rate-Loans-Refinance-Home-Loan-Cash-713749

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1) After reaching a 2 ½-year high last November, the number of pending home sales in the U.S. dropped in December because of a limited supply of available homes, a possible sign that sales of previously-occupied homes may continue to fall in the next few months.

On Monday, the National Association of Realtors announced that its seasonally adjusted index fell 4.3 percent last month to 101.7 from November’s record reading of 106.3. However, the results were not a complete step backward; December’s index reading was a 6.9 percent increase from the previous year, and for the past 20 consecutive months, pending home sales have stayed above their respective year-ago levels… (Read more.)

Money Plant2) New orders for manufactured durable goods increased 4.6 percent in December to $230.07 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This makes seven increases in the last eight months, led by an unexpectedly large increase in transportation equipment, up 11.9 percent. Excluding transportation, which is relatively volatile, new orders increased 1.3 percent. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg were looking for 2 percent growth in new durable goods orders.

3) Retail industry sales will increase 3.4 percent in 2013, according to a forecast by the National Retail Federation. This is a downward revision from 4.2 percent growth forecast earlier. The NRF reports that “the subdued forecast comes on the heels of a holiday season that went head-to-head with Washington’s political wrangling over fiscal concerns, shifting consumers’ spending plans downward.”

NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz adds that “while it’s too early to know the full effect of higher payroll taxes, there’s no question that many consumers will feel some kind of impact from the change in their paychecks.”

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