The Chill in the Air

This is my favorite time of year, when the weather is chilly in the morning and perfect in the afternoon; when the rain clears the air and the light shines through the clouds onto golden mountains.  When it’s still early on enough that I don’t panic every time I think of the upcoming Christmas season.  The downside is the unpredictability; it’s hard to plan outside activities more than 2 hours in advance because you just don’t know what the weather will be like.  Who am I kidding?  I haven’t been outside in months.

Speaking of unpredictability, let’s talk about the foreign markets for a sentence or two. The European Central Bank decided to leave its main refinancing rate–the rate that it charges on regular loans directly to banks–at a record low of 0.05%, where it has been for over a year. The rate on overnight deposits also remained at minus 0.2%, meaning banks continue to pay to temporarily stash excess funds at the ECB.  I want in on that business–or I’d even settle for excess funds that I don’t know what else to do with.  Heading further east, China’s central bank combined a quarter-point cut in benchmark interest rates with a half-percentage reduction in banks’ reserve-requirement ratios to make it easier for institutions to borrow money from the CCB.  This is the sixth time that China has cut their interest rate in the last year.

Turning to domestic housing, the number of existing home sales increased 4.7% during September, and is up 8.0% since this time last year.  Single-family home sales were up 5.3% last month (8.6% year over year), meaning that multi-family and condo unit transactions are starting to taper.  Following the summer rush, the median sales price of an existing home fell 2.9% to $221,900 across the U.S. (still +6.1% from last year).