The Dow pulled back from last week’s rally falling 23 points on very light trading volume to close it 17,623. The NASDAQ edged higher thanks to continued strength in tech.
Housing markets hit a bump in the latest report with sales of new homes running at an annual rate of 468,000 in Sept., missing forecasts for a rate of 549,000. Supply rose to 5.8 months at the current pace of sales, up from 4.9 in Aug. The median sales price of $296,900 was 14% higher vs. a year ago.
Online mortgage broker Lending Tree, blew out estimates, reporting Q3 EPS of 79 cents, a 93% increase from a year earlier. Revenue was $69.8 million, a 69% increase. Analysts were expecting EPS of 58 cents on revenue of $60.5 million. While this is a small company the stock was up 16% in heavy volume and is back above its 50-day moving average. Lending Tree is now the largest online lending company and is incorporating big data analytics in how it approaches customer loan offerings and service. Lending Tree might be shaping up as a disrupter in the mortgage markets.
Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas announced they have unanimously approved a definitive agreement for Duke Energy to acquire Piedmont for approximately $4.9 billion in cash. Both companies are based in Charlotte, North Kakalakie (aka North Carolina) but Duke is 10 times the size of Piedmont and this news reflects a subtle yet consistant trend in which big utilities and pensions are buying smaller utilities. Piedmont’s stock was up over 30% on the news while Duke’s share were off a tad.