At the end of last week, we joked that “if the troubling headlines keep up, we could be back at all-time highs before Earth Day.” So far, so good – the headlines are still dreary, and bulls are the ones laughing as stocks forge higher.
It remains a curious and impressive sight. An ugly March consumer confidence report, and another month of home-price declines indicating that even after prices started heading south nearly five years ago (and tens of billions of taxpayer money used for artificial support), housing still hasn’t found a bottom. And stocks rally.
Now, it’s true the downbeat numbers were in line with expectations, but that doesn’t mean they stink any less. And their implications for future activity, both for consumers and the housing industry, are grim.
Economists worked to minimize the consumer confidence tumble, saying it’s tied to high gas prices, events in the Mideast and market volatility, as if those troubles are set to disappear any day now. Consumers’ near-term outlook is considerably worse than a month ago, with fewer expecting business conditions to improve, fewer expecting their incomes to increase and fewer expecting to see more jobs. And those declines are all off of already low numbers. Continue reading…