Market Commentary Feb 14 – 2012

Market Commentary – Tue, Feb 14 – 10:46 AM ET The Commerce Department reported this morning that consumers spent a little less than expected in January but any gains were welcome. Retail Sales rose by 0.4% last month, below the 0.8% that was estimated but above the December reading of 0.0%. When stripping out automobiles, sales rose by 0.7%, above the 0.6% anticipated.

Oil prices for Light Sweet Crude rose above $100 once again now at $101.32/barrel in trading at the New York Mercantile Exchange in lower Manhattan on Tuesday. Tensions in the Mideast surrounding Iran is pushing prices higher along with better than expected economic data as of late, that could lead to higher demand for oil.

The rise in oil prices are leading to higher prices at the pumps. The national average price for a regular gallon of gasoline is now $3.51, up from $3.38 a month ago. A year ago the price was $3.12.

Logo of the Federal Housing Administration.

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The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is slowly running out of funds, but the $25 billion mortgage settlement between the states and the five largest U.S. banks could be a savior for the time being for the FHA. The settlement will direct $1 billion of the money into the agency. If the funds were not anticipated, the FHA would need a bailout from the Treasury in the sum of $668 million for the first time in its 78 year existence.

The FHA provides mortgage insurance on loans made by FHA-approved lenders throughout the United States and its territories. FHA insures mortgages on single family and multifamily homes including manufactured homes and hospitals. It is the largest insurer of mortgages in the world, insuring over 34 million properties since its inception in 1934.