The Dow rebounded from yesterday’s pullback with a gain of 116 points to close at 24,727. Trading volume was lower. The NASDAQ, thanks to a strong move by Amazon, managed a gain despite the continued selloff in Faceplant. The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting began today with an interest rate hike decision due out tomorrow afternoon.
The Random Lengths Framing Lumber Composite Index fell from a record high of $513 to $506 in the latest reading. The index was at $396 a year ago. The Structural Panel Price Index (plywood and OSB) continues to hold steady at $541 up from $405 a year ago. There is talk of huge lumber inventories at mills in Canada that cannot get to market due to rail transportation problems. In the US, housing starts fell 7% in the latest reading largely due to a decline in multifamily starts which fell 26% in February after rising 25% in January! Single family starts were up about 2.9% however and this segment continues to benefit from demand and good underlying fundamentals in the economy.
Industrial production rose 1.1% in February and is now up 4.3% over the past year which is the fastest yearly growth number since 2011. Contained within the report was a decline in utility output offset by an increase in drilling and mining output. The Empire State index, a measure of manufacturing sentiment in New York, rose to a very healthy 22.5 in March from 13.1 in February.
Last night I participated in a board of review for a young man of 15 who has now officially attained the rank of Eagle Scout. It is really cool to see these young lunkheads join the troop, face challenges, learn leadership skills and emerge on the other end full of aspirations and optimistic about the future.