George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

July 29, 2014

Waiting for the Fed. Stocks meandered yesterday -- the Dow industrials were up 22 points and the Nasdaq dropped five -- as Janet Yellen and the Fed folks began a two-day meeting to assess the nation's economy and prepare to release the latest reading on inflation, employment and interest rates. The announcement will be released tomorrow at 11 a.m. Pacific, and it is unlikely there will be any significant change in policy. But you never know.

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Waiting for the Fed. Stocks meandered yesterday -- the Dow industrials were up 22 points and the Nasdaq dropped five -- as Janet Yellen and the Fed folks began a two-day meeting to assess the nation's economy and prepare to release the latest reading on inflation, employment and interest rates.

Spin this. The conference this morning released its latest update on the consumer confidence index and, much to the disappointment of the permabears, Americans are feeling darned good about things. The index rose this month to its highest level since October 2007. Not last October, but October 2007, as in seven years ago. "Strong job growth helped boost consumers' assessment of current conditions, while brighter short-term outlooks for the economy and jobs, and to a lesser extent personal income, drove the gains in expectations. Recent improvements in consumer confidence, in particular expectations, suggest the recent strengthening in growth is likely to continue into the second half of this year," said the board's Lynn Franco. Remember, this is not a survey of pointy-headed economists, this is a survey of real people. And they are very happy with the current job situation. Notice, by the way, how the elites at the conference board had to slip in one zinger, saying, "to a lesser extent, personal income."

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Interestingly, another report on U.S. economic confidence showed less enthusiasm for current conditions. The Gallup economic confidence index, a weekly report, found that 19 percent of people view the economy as excellent or good, while 35 percent call it poor. This survey does not include any consideration of how people feel about their own personal finances, a key component of the conference board index.

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The Case-Shiller report on home prices finds all 20 cities in the survey reported increases in home values in May, albeit, at a slower rate than in previous months. Nationwide, prices were up 11.2 percent compared with a year ago, and here in San Diego, the increase was 12.4 percent. David Blitzer, who prepares the report, said "Housing has been turning in mixed economic numbers in the last few months. Prices and sales of existing homes have shown improvement while construction and sales of new homes continues to lag." David, you complained last year when prices were going up too fast and now you're griping because price gains have slowed. Make up your mind, buddy.

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We now know which California city is in the running to be home to the "gigafactory" where Tesla will build batteries for its luxury cars. Stockton appears to be the favorite location but will also have to compete with towns in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and, of course, Texas. Considering Tesla manufactures its Model S in Fremont, near San Francisco, it would make sense to have the battery factory close by. It is also being reported that Panasonic will invest as much as $300 million in the project. Panasonic currently provide the batteries for Tesla cars. Overall, the factory will cost about $5 billion.

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Amazon.com has brought its AmazonFresh to San Diego. The same-day and next-day delivery service has been rolling out in other cities recently, providing online shoppers access to fresh groceries and more than 500,000 other items. The emphasis is to provide local, fresh foods to consumers. Orders placed before 10 in the morning will be delivered later in the day. To introduce the program, Amazon is offering a free 30-day trial. However, after the trial, customers will have to sign up for the Prime Fresh Account with a price tag of $299 a year.

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Looks like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are going head to head for a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup squad. Turns out neither of the fan favorites would qualify for the prestigious team based on their current world rankings and would have to be appointed to the squad by Captain Tom Watson. Some say Tiger needs to win either this weekend or next to make the team. It would be hard to imagine a U.S. Ryder Cup team without Tiger, even with his low ranking due mostly to time off for back surgery.

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George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

Waiting for the Fed. Stocks meandered yesterday -- the Dow industrials were up 22 points and the Nasdaq dropped five -- as Janet Yellen and the Fed folks began a two-day meeting to assess the nation's economy and prepare to release the latest reading on inflation, employment and interest rates.

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Weekly Updates

George Chamberlin on the Markets

July 28, 2014 -- Executive Editor George Chamberlin recaps last week's financial events and looks at the week's upcoming announcements.

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Video Interviews

Leslie Kilpatrick, Donald Coleman on the real estate market

June 26, 2104 -- George Chamberlin speaks with Leslie Kilpatrick, president of the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors, and Donald Coleman, vice president of real estate member experience for USE Credit Union, about what's happening in the residential real estate market and the role a credit union can play in buying a home.

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