Thursday’s Mid-Day Movers: 3 Stories Driving Markets

The major stocks saw minimal gains Thursday afternoon, despite disappointing housing, jobs, and manufacturing reports. As of 12 p.m.:

DIJA: +0.08% to 15287.82 S&P 500: +0.00% to 1658.86 NASDAQ: +0.27% to 9.25
Gold: +4.04% to 74.91 Oil: +1.09% to 22.22 U.S. 10-Year: -3.19% to 18.81

Here are three stories helping shape the market on Thursday afternoon:

1. Fed’s Lacker: Time To End Housing Stimulus: Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker called Wednesday for the U.S. Central Bank to end its role in stimulating the housing market, pointing to modest recovery in the sector.

Worrying about the inflationary effects of extended Fed activity in housing, Lacker suggested that the central bank end its policy of purchasing mortgage-backed securities, something he has consistently opposed. As he sees it, the unconventional policies of the Fed could drive up prices as the housing market picks up, stating, “Inflation doesn’t take care of itself — it requires some attention from a central bank. The inflation outlook looks good now, but I think there are risks to the inflation outlook a couple of years ahead of us…” (Read more.)

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2. Fed’s Easy Money Policy Gets a Green Light From Low Inflation: The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, a proxy for inflation, decreased a seasonally-adjusted 0.4 percent on the month in April, slightly more than estimates for a 0.3 percent decline. This decline decelerated year-over-year growth in the headline CPI index from 1.5 percent to 1.1 percent.

This is the second period in a row that the headline rate has been negative. The overall index has been pulled lower primarily by large declines in energy, which was down 4.3 percent in April following a 2.6 percent decline in March. Food climbed 0.2 percent in April following no change in March…(Read more.)

3. Housing Starts Plunge To Worst Level in 5 Months: Despite monthly housing starts recently recapturing a one million-unit pace, they took a worse-than-expected plunge in April to reach their worst level in five months.

Builders broke ground on houses at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 853,000 units last month, representing a 16.5 percent drop from the downwardly revised March estimate of 1.02 million units, according to the Commerce Department. It is the weakest reading for housing starts since November. However, the rate was still 13.1 percent higher than the April 2012 pace of 754,000 units…(Read more.)

Don’t Miss: Fed’s Lacker: Time to End Housing Stimulus.