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Five Things You Need to Know: New Home Sales... Blah... Contained... Blah... Stabilization... Blah... Whatever; Durable Goods Orders; Housing Troubles Now Contained to Taxpayers; New Earth-Like Planet Found!; What the New Planet Earth Means for You

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What you need to know (and what it means)!

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Minyanville's daily Five Things You Need to Know to stay head of the pack on Wall Street:

1. New Home Sales... Blah... Contained... Blah... Stabilization... Blah... Whatever

New Home Sales for March came in weaker than expected, up 2.6% versus 5% expected.

  • Although 2.6% above the February rate, the year-on-year rate fell 23.5%.
  • Hilariously, the data shows a margin of error ±12.9% for the February "increase" ... but only ±7.9% for the year-on-year decline.
  • Supplies are estimated at 7.8 months at the current sales rate.
  • On the bright side, the median price of a new home was up 6.4% year-on-year.
  • However, no telling how many "incentives" were built into the median price increase to boost sales, so the net figure could still be lower.
  • Sales rose in two of the four regions; higher in the Northeast and Midwest, lower in the South and West.


2. Durable Goods Orders

We interrupt the relentless housing debacle to bring you what the market says is good news for once: Durable goods orders rose more than expected in March according to the Commerce Department.

  • Durable goods orders excluding transportation equipment increased 1.5% in March.
  • February's awful 1% decline was revised slightly higher to a 0.4% drop.
  • Meanwhile, orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft rose 4.7%, the most since September 2004.
  • Wait, did we say good news? Sorry, we meant bad news.
  • See, despite the 4.7% month-on-month increase, orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a proxy for future business investment, is actually still declining.
  • Even the jump in March is not enough to rescue the December to January 6.2% decline, or the January to February 2.3% decline.
  • While the market celebrates the "jump in capital spending," we'll point to the fact it's still declining at a 12% rate for the quarter.
  • As well, shipments of durable goods only increased modestly, up 0.8%, after back-to-back months of declines.
  • And Inventories increased again, up 0.3%, the 13th consecutive month of increases.


3. Housing Troubles Now Contained to Taxpayers

Buyer's market? Seller's Market? Depends upon whom you ask and when. One area of the housing market that REALLY IS stabilizing, however, is... property taxes. Yes, apparently it's always a property tax collector's market!

  • The USA Today this morning has an interesting article on yet another - look, we're just going to drop the running "housing is well contained" gag and come right out and say it like it is - poorly contained aspect of the housing slump: rising property taxes in the face of falling housing prices.
  • How can property taxes continue rising even as property prices fall?
  • Simple. Despite the housing downturn, the market value of millions of homes still exceeds their assessed value.
  • According to the USA Today, all but five states limit how quickly property taxes can rise.
  • So after a decade of soaring housing prices, it can take years for a home's tax value to catch up to its market value.
  • As well, property taxes are frequently based on market values that are several years old.
  • New Hampshire, for example, revalues property once every five years, most recently in 2006 when prices peaked, the newspaper said.


4. New Earth-Like Planet Found!

Whew! Just in the nick of time, astronomers say they have found the first Earth-sized world circling its mother star at a distance suitable for life.

  • The new planet is the smallest planet beyond our solar system that astronomers have discovered to date, although it's still about 50% larger than Earth.
  • Astronomers estimate the mean temperature of the planet to be about 0-40°C, which in Fahrenheit is... uh... hmmm... about... like... probably fairly comfortable we would guess.
  • The planet circles a star in the constellation Libra known as Gliese 581, 20.5 light-years away.
  • Ok, we have no idea what the Fahrenheit conversion from 0-40°C is.
  • The closest Earth-sized planet astronomers previously discovered was a Neptune-sized world also circling Gliese 581.
  • Look, why are we expected to know the stupid Fahrenheit conversion of 0-40°C off the top of our heads?
  • The scientists, part of an international team from Switzerland, France and Portugal, submitted their findings for publication in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.
  • Ok, fine, you want a conversion to Fahrenheit? Here's a conversion for you. Take 0-40°C, divide by 13.7, and multiply the result by we couldn't care less because we live in New York Freakin' City where it's right now 57°F.


5. What the New Planet Earth Means for You

Ya know, it's kinda creepy thinking about the impending doom of global warming, nuclear Iran, Dow 13,000 and deep fried barbecue-flavored pork-filled snack cakes. It raises a lot of questions, such as: Why are astronomers scrambling around to find a new planet to inhabit? What's wrong with our current planet? Shouldn't we clean up around here first before rushing off to pollute another perfectly clean planet?

Of course, not everyone will be going to the new planet. For those of us you staying behind to help sort out the post-apocalyptic mess here on Earth, we've prepared a convenient Frequently Asked Questions guide so you can know what to expect.

Click here for Minyanville's Post-Apocalyptic Earth FAQ
No positions in stocks mentioned.

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