The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports that its Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) decreased 3.5% in December to 182.2 and down 4% from June's record high of 189.8 though up 4.1% vs a year ago. A decline in the MCAI indicates that lending standards are tightening, while increases in the index are indicative of loosening credit. "Credit availability fell in December after three months of expansion, driven by drops in both conventional and government supply," said Joel Kan, MBA's Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting.
Quarterly earnings season for Q4 2019 kicks off this week with big bank names such as Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs reporting their numbers. Earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to fall by 0.6% from the fourth quarter of 2018. Investors will also receive economic data from housing, manufacturing, consumer spending and sentiment along with inflation numbers from the closely watched Consumer Price Index.
The major U.S. stock market averages are higher once again today and are at fresh record highs as the week kicks off. The closely watched S&P 500 is at an all-time high of 3,282 after a gain of nearly 30% in 2019. An expanding economy, low inflation and rates, ultra-low unemployment, solid consumer confidence ad spending are a few reasons for the stellar performance in the equity markets.