Wall Street Indexes, Auto Industry, Housing Market at Year End
As 2011 draws to a close, Europe’s debt problems remain in the spotlight for anxious Wall Street investors, resulting in stocks being down by more than one percent at close of business Wednesday. Trading volumes have been light in this last week of the year, and with few economic and corporate reports due it is doubtful that this light trading trend will change until the New Year. Analysts have noted that recent market movement is likely to have been influenced by investors taking stock of their investment portfolios and taking action to balance these in preparation for 2012.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 dropped into negative territory for the year by losing 16 points, or 1.3 percent on Wednesday, while the Nasdaq composite dropped 35 points, or 1.3 percent, and the Dow Jones industrial average closed with a decline of 140 points or 1.1 percent. With the tech sector being negatively impacted by Fossil, RIMM and Netflix, the Nasdaq is down by about two percent for the year. Of the three major Wall Street indexes, at five percent up the Dow is the only index to remain in positive territory for the year.
Although the auto industry has a long way to go before reaching the levels it enjoyed prior to the recession, it has been noted that sales in 2011 offered some light at the end of the tunnel. Recent statistics revealed that sales for cars, trucks and SUV’s – categorized as “light vehicles” – are likely to reach 12.8 million for 2011 in comparison to the 2008 figure of 13.2 million. With 18.9 percent market share, General Motors was the industry leader. Ford’s market share was 16.5 percent, with Toyota coming in at 14.1 percent.
On the housing front, it has been reported that quite a number of homeowners who have not been paying their mortgages for up to two years are avoiding foreclosure by using legal fine print to their advantage, calling for paperwork from lenders that ties the whole foreclosure process in knots. The so-called “robo-signing” issue, where staff signing off foreclosure documents without being familiar with their contents, is also being used effectively as a foreclosure stalling tactic. In a recent report, National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) spokesperson David Berenbaum noted that lenders need to put more effort into finding mortgage payment solutions that will allow embattled homeowners to keep their homes.