🏠 Housing market benchwarmers

Monday, May 22, 2023 by Snacks
House hunting with no plans to move (Crispin la valiente/Getty Images)

House hunting with no plans to move (Crispin la valiente/Getty Images)

House hunting with no plans to move (Crispin la valiente/Getty Images)

House hunting with no plans to move (Crispin la valiente/Getty Images)

Last Week’s Market Moves
Dow Jones
33,427 (+0.38%)
S&P 500
4,192 (+1.65%)
Nasdaq
12,658 (+3.04%)
Bitcoin
$26,916 (+0.40%)

Hey Snackers,

Na-cho phrase: Taco Bell filed a petition to put Taco John’s long-standing trademark of “Taco Tuesday” back in the public domain, saying that restricting usage of the famous alliteration is like “depriving the world of sunshine itself.” Taco Monday just doesn’t hit right.

Stocks gained for the week, led by a 3% surge in the techy Nasdaq, after President Biden and House Speaker McCarthy expressed confidence that the US could reach a debt-ceiling truce to avoid a default. But on Friday, markets turned red after negotiators halted the talks.

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Benched

1. Americans are bench-warming the housing market, creating a game with no winners

Zillow scrolling for a fantasy… Wannabe homebuyers in the US might’ve been encouraged by some news last week: home prices had their biggest annual drop in more than 11 years. Last month, the median existing-home price fell to $389K (down 1.7% from a year earlier), mainly driven by declines in the western half of the country.

  • The good(ish): It’s the second straight month that home prices fell, a positive sign for prospective buyers. But don’t pop the bubbly yet…

  • The bad: The median home price is still $100K higher than it was three years ago, while mortgage rates have soared, hitting 6.4% last week for a 30-yr fixed.

  • The ugly: Housing supply is ridiculously low in part because folks scooped up homes during the pandemic when interest rates were near zero. In 2021, the rate on a 30-yr fixed was ~3% — and folks don’t want to give that up.

Dreaming of a California 2-bedroom… will stick to the one in “The Sims” (FYI: the median CA home price = $815K). Only one-fifth of Americans think it’s a good time to buy a home, a record low, a recent Gallup survey found. Overall it’s a nobody’s market, but there are regional differences:

  • Thumbin' my way into North Carolina… The South saw more home sales in April than any other region (nearly 2M homes sold, vs. ~500K for the Northeast, which had the fewest). Over half of Southern home sales were priced between $250K and $500K.
THE TAKEAWAY

Both teams are on the bench… as buyers and sellers sit on the sidelines. Home sales have plunged from last year. People who want to move aren’t selling because they feel trapped by the “golden handcuffs” of low mortgage rates. People who want to buy aren’t buying because prices are high while supply’s low. Some experts hope for more activity later this year, as the Fed is expected to pause rate hikes while traders are betting the central bank will even start cutting.

Zoom Out

2. Stories we’re watching

Not For You page… Last week, Montana became the first US state to ban TikTok. Starting in January, the legislation will make it illegal for app stores to offer TikTok within Montana’s borders — TikTok, Apple, and Google could be fined for violations. Montana's move could set a precedent for a nationwide ban: in March, Congress proposed legislation that would allow for a Tik-ban, and President Biden urged lawmakers to pass it over national security concerns. But Montana’s law is expected to face legal challenges over free-speech rights.

Miners on the move… After the White House proposed a 30% tax on crypto miners' electricity costs, Bit Digital said it’s expanding to Iceland. The NY-based bitcoin mining and ethereum staking biz said that it bought 2.5K mining rigs for $5M and will spin them up in the land of fire and ice. If the tax proposal goes through, other miners may follow in the crypto exod-US. They’d have company: this month, US-based Coinbase and Gemini opened trading platforms in Bermuda and Singapore as regulators turned the screws at home.

Events

3. Coming up this week

(AI) chip off the old block… Nvidia shares neared a record high last week ahead of the chipmaker’s earnings Wednesday, and have more than 2X’d this year. In Nvidia’s last report, sales were down 21% on the year as gaming demand slowed and it shipped fewer chips for consoles like Nintendo's Switch. But sales for its AI-centered GPUs are taking off as biggies like Microsoft, Alphabet, and Meta pour $$ into the emerging tech. Despite the future-focused bot buzz, analysts expect Nvidia to report more earnings declines as broader chip demand sags.

Prepare for memorial delays… This Memorial Day weekend is gearing up to be one of the busiest ever for travel. AAA predicts 42M+ Americans will go out of town instead of BBQ’ing in the backyard, up 7% from last year. Beyond traffic jams, air travel is expected to surpass prepandemic levels, with more folks extending trips beyond the long weekend (s/o #WFH). It’s a boost for airlines, but could also be a delay nightmare: carriers are struggling to meet demand with staff shortages and jet-delivery delays (better pack your Kindle).

ICYMI

4. Last week’s highlights

  • Jolt: Elon Musk said Tesla will try advertising for the first time after years of relying on word-of-mouth fame. The EV maker is no longer in a lane of its own as electric competition revs into high gear.

  • iSpy: The DOJ charged a former Apple software engineer with stealing autonomous driving tech secrets. Stolen intellectual property costs the US up to $600B/year, and China’s the biggest offender.

  • UnZero: China’s reopening boosted sales last quarter for American companies like Disney and Starbucks, but the post-lockdown recovery is moving much slower than hoped.

What else we’re Snackin’

  • Inflación: To cope with 109% inflation, Argentines are bartering, buying in bulk, and scrambling to spend quickly devaluing pesos. The government is throwing inflation-fighting policies at the wall to see what sticks.

  • iGlass: Apple’s expected to unveil its long-awaited mixed-reality headset on June 5 (name TBD). Sales of VR headsets from Meta and Sony have sputtered, but Apple’s i-nfluence could expand the market.

  • Interest-ing: Americans failed to reduce their credit card debt from Q4 to Q1 for the first time since 2003. Gen Z especially struggled to pay off holiday hauls, and that’s before student debt payments resume.

Snack Fact of the Day

Last month 15 US states saw their lowest unemployment rates on record

This Week

  • Monday: Earnings expected from Zoom

  • Tuesday: Earnings expected from Dick’s Sporting Goods, Lowe’s, BJ’s Wholesale, AutoZone, Williams-Sonoma, and Urban Outfitters

  • Wednesday: Fed May minutes released. Earnings expected from Kohl’s, Petco, Abercrombie & Fitch, Nvidia, e.l.f. Beauty, and American Eagle

  • Thursday: Earnings expected from Dollar Tree, Best Buy, Ralph Lauren, Burlington, Build-A-Bear, Weibo, 23andMe, Ulta, and Gap

  • Friday: Earnings expected from Big Lots

Authors of this Snacks own bitcoin and ethereum and shares of: Apple, Alphabet, Disney, Nvidia, Microsoft, Tesla, Ulta, Starbucks, and Yum Brands

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