Stock recover on signs of improving Trump’s health

MILAN (Reuters) – Stocks and other risk assets rose on Monday as signs that Donald Trump’s health was improving brought relief to markets after the uncertainty of his COVID-19 infection sent investors rushing for safety last week.

FILE PHOTO: The New York Stock Exchange is pictured in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., October 2, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

The U.S. President, 74, was flown to a hospital for treatment on Friday, but his doctors said he had responded well and could return to the White House as soon as on Monday.

The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 49 countries, was up 0.4% by 0812 GMT, supported by overnight gains across Asia and a positive start in Europe.

The pan-European STOXX 600 .STOXX rose 0.7%. S&P 500 futures EScv1 rose 0.5% and Nasdaq futures NQc1 0.8%, indicating a similarly strong start on Wall Street later.

Overhanging the relief rally, however, were concerns that Trump’s case could be more severe than public disclosures suggest, and that more restrictive measures by governments to slow coronavirus infections could harm the economic recovery.

Some traders were concerned by doctors’ admission that Trump had been given supplementary oxygen and steroids.

“Many questions remain including the use of the steroid drug … which is usually reserved for those with severe illness,” said Raymond James strategist Chris Bailey in London. “Global cases now top 35 million and various new restrictions in Paris, New York, etc”,

A survey on Monday showed the euro zone’s economic recovery faltered last month as new restrictions sent its dominant service sector into reverse.

IHS Markit’s final composite Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 50.4, just above the 50 mark separating growth from contraction.

Trump’s infection also comes less than one month before the presidential election on Nov. 3, potentially fuelling more market volatility and making the outcome of the vote even more difficult to predict.

“In terms of the impact on the election, we haven’t seen enough polling to assess whether this increases or decreases his chances of winning,” said Deutsche Bank strategists.

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Sunday, Democrat contender Joe Biden opened his widest lead in a month in the U.S. presidential race.

The volatility VIX index .VIX, known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, remained close to the one-week high it hit on Friday.

Meantime, suggestions Trump could leave hospital sent oil prices up more than 2%. An escalating workers’ strike in Norway that has shut four of Equinor’s oil and gas fields also helped drive the gains. [O/R]

Brent LCOc1 prices were up 2% at $40.1 a barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate CLc1 added 2.2% to $37.9 a barrel.

The dollar was little changed as investors awaited news about U.S. Trump’s health and developments in fiscal aid talks in Washington. [FRX/] The dollar index =USD was last down less than 0.1% on the day at 93.722.

Yields on benchmark 10-year Treasuries US10YT=RR rose to 0.7088% and the yield curve

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White House doctor says Trump coronavirus symptoms improving while sidestepping questions

White House physician Sean Conley said Saturday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump campaign manager tests positive for COVID-19 Trump given Remdesivir as treatment for COVID-19 infection ICE launching billboard campaign highlighting ‘at-large immigration violators’ MORE is doing “very well” after being hospitalized with coronavirus and that his symptoms of a mild cough, nasal congestion and fatigue are improving, while sidestepping questions about Trump’s treatment and creating uncertainty about the timeline of his diagnosis. 

“At this time the team and I are extremely happy with the progress the president has made,” Conley told reporters outside Walter Reed Medical Center, where Trump was hospitalized Friday evening. “Thursday, he had a mild cough and some nasal congestion and fatigue, all of which are now resolving and improving.” 

At the same time, a source familiar with the president’s health told reporters that the president’s vitals over the past 24 hours were “very concerning” and described the next 48 hours as “critical in terms of his care.” 

“We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery,” the person said.

The statement, which was not on the record, seemed to diverge considerably from Conley’s positive assessment and quickly created confusion about Trump’s condition less than 24 hours after he was admitted to the military hospital in Bethesda, Md.

Conley did not give a date when he expects Trump to be released from the hospital, but said the president has been fever-free for over 24 hours after experiencing a fever “Thursday into Friday.” Conley declined to disclose the specific temperature of the president’s fever. 

At the first press briefing from a doctor since Trump announced his positive test early Friday morning, Conley danced around questions about whether the president had ever been on oxygen, repeatedly saying he was not currently on it. He later said that Trump had not been on it Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Conley also said that Trump has not experienced difficulty breathing. 

“More than anything, he’s felt run down,” Conley told reporters. 

Conley also raised new questions about the timeline of Trump’s diagnosis when he described Trump as “72 hours” into his diagnosis. The White House revealed Trump’s positive test in the early hours of Friday morning, which was less than 48 hours ago.

A White House official later clarified Conley’s remarks, saying that he meant to say that it is day three of the president’s diagnosis, not 72 hours. The official reiterated that Trump was diagnosed late Thursday night. 

Trump traveled to participate in a fundraiser at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., on Thursday afternoon despite officials knowing that one of his top aides, Hope HicksHope Charlotte HicksTrump campaign manager tests positive for COVID-19 Trump given Remdesivir as treatment for COVID-19 infection Kellyanne Conway tests positive for COVID-19 MORE, had been diagnosed with the virus. The fundraiser would have taken place after Trump’s diagnosis if he were diagnosed 72 hours ago. 

The doctors did not give a date of the president’s last negative test, which is

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Affordability Improving Nationally Despite Strong Nominal Price Appreciation, According to First American Real House Price Index

—Recent history has shown that in times of economic distress, lower mortgage rates have offset the affordability drag from faster house price appreciation and lower household income, says Chief Economist Mark Fleming—

First American Financial Corporation (NYSE: FAF), a leading global provider of title insurance, settlement services and risk solutions for real estate transactions, today released the July 2020 First American Real House Price Index (RHPI). The RHPI measures the price changes of single-family properties throughout the U.S. adjusted for the impact of income and interest rate changes on consumer house-buying power over time at national, state and metropolitan area levels. Because the RHPI adjusts for house-buying power, it also serves as a measure of housing affordability.

Chief Economist Analysis: Falling Rates, Rising Income Offset Nominal House Price Appreciation in July

“Affordability improved in July as two of the three key drivers of the Real House Price Index (RHPI), household income and mortgage rates, swung in favor of increased affordability, outpacing the rise in nominal house price appreciation. The average 30-year, fixed mortgage rate fell by 0.75 percentage points and household income increased 5.5 percent compared with July 2019,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist at First American. “Declining mortgage rates and rising household income levels both increase consumer house-buying power. So, even though nominal house price appreciation jumped 8.2 percent annually in July, it was not enough to offset the affordability boost from declining rates and rising household income.

“While there remains debate regarding the actual end date of the 2020 recession, there is no argument that the economic pain inflicted by the coronavirus continues to linger. Yet, housing affordability nationally has improved, and the housing market remains resilient,” said Fleming. “But, how have nominal house prices and affordability fared in previous economic declines and what can that tell us about today’s housing market?”

How Nominal House Prices Fare During Recessions

“We examined how nominal house prices and the RHPI reacted to the four most recent recessions, including the current pandemic-driven economic downturn,” said Fleming. “It is important to note that a declining RHPI trend line indicates improving affordability, and a rising RHPI trend line signals worsening affordability.

“With the exception of the Great Recession in 2008-2009 and a modest decline in the 1990 recession, nominal house prices have remained flat or risen slowly, but have not declined,” said Fleming. “This demonstrates the ‘downside stickiness’ of house prices during economic decline. In the pandemic-driven recession of 2020, we’ve seen house price appreciation grow faster than in any of the economic declines in our recent past.

“This phenomenon of continued house price appreciation amid economic decline is unique to the housing market because sellers tend to withdraw supply to wait out the economic storm, rather than sell at lower prices,” said Fleming. “During the Great Recession, house prices declined because of a flood of foreclosures and distressed selling, which were a product of rapid house price appreciation not entirely supported by economic fundamentals. In today’s market, nominal house price

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Repairing and Improving a Home

Look for help with repairing or making improvements to your home.

Help with Home Repairs and Modifications

If you plan to repair or renovate your home, government programs may make it easier for you to afford those home improvements.

What Financial Help is Available for Home Repairs?

Home improvement loan programs help with home repairs and modifications. They are the most common type of government financial assistance for home improvements. Some programs are available nationwide, while others are only available at the state or county level.

Find Loans and Other Incentives

Help for Certain Demographic Groups

The homemods.org national directory lets you search by state for funding, service providers, and other resources.   

Am I Eligible for Home Repair Assistance?

Eligibility requirements vary from program to program. In general, it depends on:

How Do I Apply for Home Improvement Programs?

Reach out to the federal, state, or county government agency that administers the program. Loans are made by traditional lenders. But the government programs help these lenders make loans that they might normally not fulfill. Grants are available depending on your income level and work to be done.

To get started, contact:

What Else Do I Need to Know Before Starting a Home Repair?

Tips for Hiring a Contractor

Finding a good contractor to do repairs and improvements to your home is important. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides resources and tips on hiring a contractor. These tips include important questions to ask and how to report problems.

Watch Out for Utility Lines Before You Dig – Call 811

Before digging on your property, call 811. Utilities will come out to mark the area to help you avoid damaging or being injured by underground utility lines. The timing for processing your request differs from state to state. Some states allow for an online digging request.

Get Help with Your Home Energy Bill

If you can’t afford to pay your home heating or cooling bill, you may be able to get help from the government or your local social services agency or nonprofit. 

What help is available for my home energy bill?

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) may be able to help with:

  • Assistance to pay your heating or cooling bills
  • Emergency services in cases of energy crisis, such as utility shutoffs
  • Low-cost home improvements, known as weatherization, that make your home more energy efficient and lower your utility bills.

LIHEAP funds may not be used to pay water and sewer bills.

Am I eligible for LIHEAP?

This chart from Benefits.gov shows the average LIHEAP eligibility requirements. Actual requirements may vary by state, city, or region. Each local LIHEAP office sets its own eligibility requirements.

  • A person or family participating in certain other benefit programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF or welfare), or certain needs-tested veterans benefits may be automatically eligible.
  • Being qualified for LIHEAP does not guarantee that you will receive help. Whether or not
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