Money

Coronavirus prompts record Colorado home sales

As the coronavirus prompts exoduses from New York and California, more and more people are committing to buying homes in Colorado. The Colorado Association of Realtors reported a monthly record of 10,771 single-family home sales in July— a 21 percent increase year-over-year. The state also saw an 8.6-percent jump in new listings, though the number of single-family home active listings dropped by about 42 percent year-over-year. Colorado Springs realtor Jay Gupta said in the report that homebuyers “waited on an hour-by-hour basis for the new listings to show up, then competed to win the bidding wars.” The state has become a Top 10 destination for wealthy Gen-Xers and Millenials in recent years, personal finance technology company SmartAsset reported on Friday. Denver-area contracts contributed heavily to Colorado’s total home sales, while high demand and a limited supply of houses drove up average mortgage amounts, the report found. “Despite the inventory increase in July, the robust buyer activity continues to consume any and all new listings that are priced appropriately within 30 days of coming on the market,” Denver realtor Karen Levine said in a statement. She added that the current market is a “challenge for buyers, as they have fewer properties to choose from, competition is fierce and the average and median prices continue to move upward.” At the same time, the state is experiencing record unemployment rates. Nearly 15,000 Coloradans filed for unemployment for the first time last week, and about 280,800 state residents continue to receive unemployment benefits, The Colorado Sun reported Thursday. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis extended the state’s $300 individual weekly unemployment benefit for another 13 weeks on Thursday. “There is a total disconnect with half the economy being crushed and yet, housing has mostly shrugged it all off. Like the stock market. Bad news is good news for both, it appears,” Colorado Springs realtor Patrick Muldoon said in a statement. “The total number of business closings is catastrophic. It is estimated by many that a third of all restaurants are simply not coming back.”

Potential good news for anyone selling their house in Colorado.  For more, click on the text above…

What is a subprime credit score?

If your goal is to get approved for a new loan or life of credit, your credit score is one of the most powerful tools that you have at your disposal. After all, the score you’re given can determine the types of loans you’ll be deemed eligible for and the corresponding interest rates you’ll be given if you’re ultimately approved. Most people are aware their score rated on a scale from poor to excellent by the credit bureaus. However, they may not be aware that another designation also exists: prime credit score and subprime credit score. Click here to take a closer look at subprime credit scores. It will cover what this designation means, how having a subprime credit score will impact you, and how to improve your credit score to be given better rates. Again, just click here continue reading:

Trump orders $400-per-week unemployment payments amid COVID crisis, hits Dems for stonewalling

President Trump signed four executive actions Saturday aimed at delivering relief to Americans struggling with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic while accusing Democrats of stonewalling greater aid efforts. Trump announced a $400-per-week supplemental unemployment payment to out-of-work Americans — short of the $600 weekly benefit that expired at the end of July. He unveiled an extension of student loan relief and protections from evictions for renters and homeowners. Trump also issued a payroll tax holiday through the end of the year for Americans earning less than $100,000, while promising more relief if he wins a second term. The president signed the executive actions from his Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., as club members cheered him on. He blamed Democrats for the coronavirus stalemate in Congress and said he’d take matters into his own hands. “Democrats are obstructing all of it,” Trump said. “Therefore, I’m taking executive action … and we’re going to save American jobs and provide relief to the American workers.” For the new $400-per-week benefit, states would be on the hook for funding 25 percent for the millions of jobless Americans, while the federal government would pick up 75 percent of the benefit, Trump said. Asked when the jobless would see the money, Trump said it would be “rapidly distributed.” The $400 boost is more than what many congressional Republicans wanted. Some opposed any extension of the federal aid, while others backed a boost no greater than $200 per week. Meanwhile, Democrats had been fighting for the full $600-per-week extension, which is on top of state unemployment benefits. Click here for more:

Why unemployed Americans may owe the IRS next year

Millions of Americans have lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic – and many who are claiming unemployment benefits may be faced with a surprise tax bill next year. The IRS requires people to report income received in the form of unemployment. Some states tax benefits, too. However, when you receive unemployment there’s typically no withholding, meaning individuals have to choose to have taxes withheld. And even then, it’s usually at a rate of 10 percent, which may not be enough for some people who have been receiving expanded unemployment benefits. “Unemployment withholding may not cover their actual tax liability,” Eric Bronnenkant, Head of Tax at Betterment, told FOX Business. “That $600 essentially allowed people to make more money on unemployment [than working, so] 10 percent is even less likely to cover their actual tax.” Additionally, Bronnenkant noted that people may choose not to have any money withheld because they need as much cash as possible for essential expenses. Others may look at it as a “next year problem,” he added. How prominent this issue will be next tax season depends on the future of the U.S. economy and the extent to which lawmakers decide to renew the expanded unemployment benefits in pending relief legislation. The additional $600, which was a policy under the CARES Act, expired at the end of July. The number of people receiving benefits was about 16 million as of July 25. But the tax issue stands to be problematic for many, especially those who are collecting benefits for the first time. According to a recent survey, 37% of Americans thought unemployment compensation was not considered taxable income. More than half of respondents did not know that they had to request to have taxes withheld from unemployment compensation. If you do not have taxes withheld from your checks, you may have to make quarterly estimated payments to the IRS. These payments are typically required of individuals who expect to owe tax of $1,000 or more when their return is filed.

U.S. Economy Adds 1.8 Million Jobs in July, Unemployment Rate Fall to 10.2%

The U.S. economy added 1.8 million jobs in July and the unemployment rate fell to 10.2 percent, providing reassurance that the labor market has kept up some of its post-lockdown momentum. The numbers were better than anticipated. Economists had forecast an addition of around 1.5 million jobs and a decline in the unemployment rate to 10.6 percent from 11.1 percent last week. The economy has added around 9.1 million jobs in the past three months. The increase in the ranks of employed workers shows that companies ramped up hiring as the economy reopened and consumers came back to stores, restaurants, and other businesses that had been shuttered in March and April. Despite the gains, employment in July was lower than its February level by 12.9 million, or 8.4 percent The largest employment increases in July occurred in leisure and hospitality, government, retail trade, professional and business services, other services, and health care, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said in its monthly report on the employment situation in the U.S. The leisure and hospitality sector added 592,000 jobs in July, accounting for about one-third of the gain in total nonfarm employment in July. Restaurants and bars added 502,000 employees, following gains of 2.9 million in May and June combined. This was the hardest hit area during the pandemic lockdowns when many businesses were forced to shut their doors or saw demand plummet. Manufacturing had a strong month, in large part because of the auto sector. Employment increased by 26,000. A gain of 39,000 in motor vehicles and parts was partially offset by losses in fabricated metal products, machinery, and computer and electronic products. Although manufacturing has added 623,000 jobs over the past 3 months, employment is 740,000 lower than in February, highlighting that the recovery has brought us less than halfway back to the pandemic starting point. In a surprise, government employment rose by 301,000 in July. Typically, public-sector employment falls in July. Nonetheless, government jobs are still 1.1 million lower than the February level. It appears that some of the typical July declines happened earlier than usual this year due to the lockdowns. In one negative note in the July report, the black unemployment rate remained basically unchanged at 14.6 percent for the month, although unemployment for most other population groups improved. Prior to the pandemic, black unemployment had fallen to record lows. Yet even with the retreat, the black unemployment remains below the 16.6 percent rate hit in the second year of the Obama administration. As well, the gap between black and white unemployment is narrower than was typical before Trump’s election, when black unemployment usually ran at twice the white rate. In fact, the black-white unemployment gap is at the narrowest it has ever been in data going back to the 1970s. And black gains in employment for the month were greater than those for whites and Hispanics. A report on private payrolls from ADP and Moody’s Analytics on Wednesday estimated that businesses increased their workforces by 167,000 million in July. The ADP reports have been wildly off in recent months, apparently unable to correctly anticipate the impact of the reopening of the economy. The initial estimate for estimate June was 2.4 million jobs, which was revised up to 4.3 million. Similarly, the estimate for May initially showed a loss of 2.76 million jobs, and had to be revised up to show a gain of 3 million. The Trump administration’s aid programs appear to have worked to stave off economic disaster in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Direct relief payments to taxpayers and enhanced unemployment have kept incomes up despite the huge rise in unemployment, which in turn has boosted demand for consumer products. The Paycheck Protection Progam, which provides forgivable loans to small businesses that avoid layoffs, also seems to have supported employment and rehiring. Those programs, however, have largely run their course. The $600 a week enhancement to unemployment benefits expired a week ago. The Paycheck Protection Program was meant to support employment for just a few months and most of the funds are now exhausted. Negotiations to re-up the programs have stalled on Capitol Hill, although President Donald Trump has said he will use executive orders to maintain federal support for the economy if Congress cannot agree on a plan.

More good economic news that we’re happy to report.  For more, click on the text above.   🙂

Stocks surge as Nasdaq nears 11K amid coronavirus vaccine progress

U.S. equity markets closed near the highs of the session after drugmakers reported progress in developing a COVID-19 vaccine and as Congress continued to work toward another economic relief package. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 370 points, or 1.4 percent, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.64 percent and 0.52 percent, respectively. The Nasdaq netted its 31st record-high close of the year and ended just shy of its first close above 11,000. Investors shrugged off dour data on jobs. The ADP report for July showed private employers added 167,000 jobs in July, well short of the 1.5 million that analysts surveyed by Reifintiiv were anticipating. The ADP reading sets the stage for the July jobs report, which is due out on Friday morning. Looking at stocks, Johnson & Johnson reached a more than $1 billion deal with the U.S. government to supply 100 million doses of its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies’ experimental COVID-19 vaccine for use in the U.S. once regulators approve. A Phase 1 clinical trial of drug maker Novavax, Inc.’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine was generally well-tolerated and induced antibodies in 100 percent of participants. And Moderna noted it has already received multiple orders for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine which will be priced between $32 to $37 for small doses. On the deal front, telehealth marketer Teladoc Inc. has agreed to an $18.5 billion purchase of Livongo Health Inc.; it plans to pay $11.33 cash and 0.592 Teladoc shares for each Livongo share. Looking at earnings, Dow component Walt Disney Co. reported revenue plunged 42 percent in the three months through June as COVID-19 shuttered its theme parks and postponed movie releases. While sales fell short of Wall Street estimates, profit outpaced expectations. CVS Health Corp. reported quarterly profit spiked 54 percent from a year ago as COVID-19 caused people to put off elective medical procedures, helping reduce the company’s medical benefit ratio, or the amount of premium revenue spent on medical care and services. Beyond Meat revenue surged 69 percent as surging retail growth helped offset a shock to the company’s foodservice sales. Still, shares were under pressure as climbing costs led to a deeper loss. Wynn Resorts reported a 95 percent drop in revenue as COVID-19 kept gamblers away from its Las Vegas and Macau casinos. Looking at commodities, gold spiked $29.90 to a record $2,031 an ounce, another new record, while West Texas Intermediate crude oil jumped $0.49 to $42.19 a barrel and settled at the highest level since March. U.S. Treasurys were under modest selling pressure, causing the yield on the 10-year note to climb to 0.541 percent. In Europe, Britain’s FTSE was leading the advance, up 1.14 percent, after U.K. factory output grew at its fastest pace since November 2017. Meanwhile, France’s CAC and Germany’s DAX were higher by 0.9 percent and 0.47 percent, respectively. Asian markets finished mixed, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng adding 0.62 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite gaining 0.17 percent while Japan’s Nikkei slipped 0.26 percent.

Apple soars to record, lifting Dow, S&P, Nasdaq to 4th straight monthly gains

Tech stocks led the charge on Friday, pushing all three of the major averages higher after stellar earnings from Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite, snapped a two-week losing streak, rising 1.5 percent, while the S&P 500 climbed 0.77 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 115 points, or 0.44 percent. All three indexes notched their fourth straight month of gains. Looking at stocks, Apple Inc. announced a 4-for-1 stock split after reporting record revenue and earnings growth for the three months through June. The tech giant’s revenue rose 11 percent during the quarter while earnings grew by 18 percent. CEO Tim Cook also told FOX Business he is confident in a “strong bounce back” for the U.S. economy. Apple shares settled at an all-time as the company approaches a $2 trillion value. Amazon Inc. reported quarterly revenue surged 40 percent year-over-year as the COVID-19 pandemic boosted its online shopping and cloud services businesses. The e-commerce behemoth’s profit doubled to a record $5.2 billion. Google-parent Alphabet Inc. beat Wall Street expectations on both the top and bottom lines, but advertising revenue fell 8 percent from a year ago, driven by weakness in its search business. Facebook Inc. revenue grew 11 percent from a year ago as user-engagement increased while Americans hunkered down at home to ride out the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the better-than-expected results, some analysts made note of the slowdown in revenue growth, which had averaged gains of almost 25 percent over the previous four quarters. Elsewhere on the earnings front, Dow component Caterpillar Inc. reported its quarterly profit plunged 70 percent from a year ago, but managed to exceed Wall Street estimates. Oil giant Chevron Corp. booked a $2.6 billion writedown of its Venezuela operations and another $1.8 billion charge due to its forecast for lower commodities prices. Overall, the company lost $8.3 billion during the quarter as the COVID-19 pandemic zapped oil demand. Rival Exxon Mobil Corp., meanwhile, lost money for the second quarter in a row, recording a $1.1 billion loss. Ford Motor Co. saw its quarterly profit increase 11-fold versus last year to $1.1 billion, but warned it expects a loss for 2020. The automaker paid down $7.7 billion of $15.4 billion borrowed through revolving credit facilities and said it has plenty of cash on hand should COVID-19 cause more production to go offline. Athletic apparel maker Under Armour Inc. sales fell 41 percent as stay-at-home orders shuttered retailers across the country, but results topped expectations as online sales experienced “significant” growth. Looking at commodities, gold gained more than $169 for the month, wrapping its biggest monthly gain since January 2012. The precious metal ended July at $1,962.80 an ounce after earlier on Friday crossing $2,000 for the first time. Meanwhile, West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose $1 for the month to close at $40.27 per barrel. U.S. Treasurys were little changed with the yield on the 10-year note holding near 0.536 percent. In Europe, Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC fell 0.54 percent and 1.43 percent, respectively, after data showed European Union gross domestic product slumped by a record 11.9 percent from the prior quarter. Meanwhile, Britain’s FTSE was weaker by 1.54 percent. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei fell 2.82 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.47 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite added 0.71 percent.

Why are coins hard to find during the pandemic?

Why are coins hard to find during the pandemic? The Federal Reserve has seen a significant decline of coins in circulation because people are not spending them as regularly at businesses, many of which are either temporarily closed or not accepting cash. Coins are still plentiful. In April, the U.S. Treasury estimated more than $47.8 billion were in the market, up by more than a billion dollars compared to last year. But in recent months, people have not been spending those coins at places like laundromats, banks, restaurants, or shops because the businesses are closed, or people are not visiting them as often as they were before the pandemic. “The typical places where coin enters our society have slowed or even stopped the normal circulation of coin,” said the Federal Reserve, which manages coin inventory, in a June statement. Sales at restaurants, bars and gas stations dropped more than 40% in April compared with a year ago. Sales have since picked up, but some businesses — like bars — remain shuttered in certain states, while others can only operate at a limited capacity. The Federal Reserve has encouraged banks to order only the coins they need and to make depositing coins easy for customers. One Wisconsin bank system offered its customers a $5 bonus for every $100 in coins they brought into exchange at a branch. The program was so successful, the bank suspended it after only a week.

Second stimulus check calculator: See how much money you could receive

As Congress debates the next round of federal coronavirus relief, a fresh round of stimulus checks for Americans is seeming like an increasingly likely possibility. Senate Republicans rolled out the HEALS Act — the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protections and Schools Act — on Monday, estimated to cost around $1 trillion. Among other measures, the package includes another $1,200 economic impact payment. The second checks will follow the same eligibility formula as the first round, according to a memo released by the Senate Finance Committee. Qualifying individuals who earn a gross adjusted income of up to $75,000 and couples earning $150,000 would receive the full $1,200 or $2,400 payments, respectively. For higher earners, the checks will be reduced by $5 for every $100 in income and phased out entirely at $99,000 and $198,000. The latest proposal also modified the stimulus checks so that families with dependents over the age of 17 who were excluded from the previous payments — a frequent criticism of the CARES Act, signed into law at the end of March — will be able to receive the extra $500. For instance, a married couple with two children could receive up to $3,400. It’s unclear whether the HEALS Act has a limit on how many dependent payments a single household can receive. The House-passed HEROES Act in May capped them at three, or an additional $1,500. Individuals who have no income and federal benefits recipients are still eligible for the full check amount. A vast majority of Americans will not be required to take any action in order to receive the money. The IRS will use their 2019 tax return if filed or their 2018 return as an alternative. The release of the HEALS Act has ignited a flurry of negotiations between congressional Republicans and Democrats, both of whom are eager for a deal as a resurgence of the virus triggers another wave of business shutdowns. That gives lawmakers just two weeks to reach an agreement on legislation: The House is scheduled to start its recess by Aug. 3, and the Senate is expected to follow on Aug. 7. But Republicans are arriving at the negotiating table hobbled by party infighting, with some conservative Republicans breaking ranks on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan and arguing the proposed spending is too much. Some warned that half of Senate Republicans may vote against the legislation. “The focus of this legislation is wrong,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told reporters this week. “Our priority, our objective, should be restarting the economy.” If President Trump signs the legislation before the Senate begins its August recess next week, that could mean Americans would start to see the money at least by the end of the month, if not earlier, as the IRS already has individuals’ direct deposit information on hand. At the beginning of June, the IRS said it had distributed some 159 million payments, worth more than $267 billion. Of those checks, 120 million were sent via direct deposit, 35 million by check and 4 million were made in the form of a prepaid debit card. An estimated 26 million more individuals will be eligible to receive money under the HEALS Act, according to an estimate from the Tax Foundation. Click here to see how much money you can expect to receive under the HEALS Act.

 

Gold soars to all-time high as dollar dive adds fuel to record run

Gold prices jumped to record highs on Monday as an intensifying U.S.-China row hammered the dollar and cemented expectations that central banks would continue pumping out stimulus to ease the economic pain from a worsening coronavirus pandemic. Spot gold rose 1.5% to $1,928.83 per ounce by 0306 GMT after hitting an all-time high of $1,933.30. U.S. gold futures climbed 1.4% to $1,924.20. Silver too joined the rally, jumping 4.5% to its highest since September 2013 at $23.86 per ounce. With the dollar substantially weaker, “a lot of funds are moving into gold right now,” said Edward Meir, analyst at ED&F Man Capital Markets. “And as long as the (virus situation) gets worse, the market is discounting more stimulus for a longer period of time and in bigger quantities, and all of that is bullish for gold,” he added. The dollar fell to a near two-year low versus major currencies as a standoff between Washington and Beijing showed no signs of abating with both sides ordering the closure of consulates in Chengdu and Houston. The COVID-19 outbreak also continued to worsen, with more than 16.13 million people cases globally and 644,836​ deaths, driving expectations of more stimulus globally to ease the economic blow. Gold tends to benefit from widespread stimulus since it is considered a hedge against inflation and currency debasement. The White House and Senate Republicans have reached “an agreement in principle” on the next coronavirus relief bill, a White House official said on Sunday. Gold’s record run may gain further momentum on technical buying and as stop losses are taken out, said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at OANDA, adding “the move to $2,000 an ounce will happen much more quickly than the move from $1,800-$1,920.” Elsewhere, platinum rose 1.4% to $926.58 and palladium climbed 0.5% to $2,230.16.