Housing starts declined in December to 999,000 from 1.09 million in November, but came in above analysts’ estimates of 985,000. The latest housing news follows some encouraging reports this week, including a 12% surge in mortgage applications for the week. A new report also found the number of homes lost to foreclose fell sharply, down 31% to the lowest level since 2007. The number of homes that began foreclosure proceedings in 2013 also fell significantly, down 33% last year to the lowest levels since 2006. However, the latest reading of homebuilder confidence slipped. The National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Market Index fell one point from November.
Among big movers, Twitter (TWTR) was on a tear in early trading up as much as 5% in the pre-market after Stifel initiated coverage with a "Buy" rating and a bullish price target of $75 a share. The stock closed yesterday at $60 a share.
Intel (INTC) was down about 4% in pre-market trading after the company reported fourth quarter results that missed by a penny and offered lukewarm guidance going forward. American Express (AXP) also missed earnings per share estimates by a penny. The company said revenue doubled from a year earlier. And Capital One Financial (COF), considered an indicator of consumer spending, said revenue rose, but earnings missed estimates by ten cents a share.
Speaking of credit cards, a new government report finds the Target (TGT) data breach was part of a broad, sophisticated attack with ties to Russia, according to the Wall Street Journal. Target has agreed to testify before Congress next month about the attack. Meanwhile, Neiman Marcus is apologizing to customers for a separate data breach that compromised customer information. The company has not revealed how many accounts were affected or an exact timeline for the breach. The New York Times is reporting the hacking, which was revealed last month, dates back to July.