New Construction Data Outperform

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Ahead of the opening bell this morning, new numbers on November Housing Starts & Permits hit the tape. Results were stronger than expected, although revisions to October's original headline fell a bit. For last month, Housing Starts rose 3.3% - far exceeding the -3.1% analysts were expecting - on just under 1.3 million seasonally adjusted annualized units.

This contrasts a bit, however, with the previous month's totals, which were revised down from almost 14 million to a little over 8 million seasonally adjusted annualized units. Net-net over the past two months we're still seeing growth, but perhaps the housing market is not quite as hot as metrics earlier had indicated.

The hottest regions for housing starts were where the weather is warmest: the West zoomed up 11.4% in November, where the South rose 8.4%. In southern states like Florida and Texas - the 2 most populous states in the South - these numbers may be carrying some hurricane hangover into last month. We shall see if number in the West continue stronger in the coming months after California - the most populous state in the West - has been ravaged by massive wildfires both to the north and south of the state.

Building permits, a forward indicator of future housing starts, fell -1.4% to a hair under 1.3 million in November. For single families, permits were up 1.4%, whereas for multi-family constructions - for a long while the secret sauce to healthy building permit numbers - dropped 6.4% last month.

Earnings Island, Continued

Still more anomalies on the earnings front, separated on either side of the calendar by a lack of earnings activity. These companies are not exactly forcing market indexes in either direction, but on their own may see runs, either positive or negative, based on their very visible results.

Darden Restaurants DRI , the parent company of Olive Garden and Long Horn Steakhouse, reported 73 cents per share in its fiscal Q2 2018 - 3 cents stronger than the Zacks consensus estimate. Quarterly sales reached $1.88 billion, outperforming the $1.85 billion analysts were expecting. Shares have risen 2.7% in today's pre-market on the news.

Truck manufacturer Navistar International NAV outperformed on its top and bottom lines for its fiscal quarter, and raised guidance as well. Swinging to a positive $1.36 per share from a -42 cents a year ago, revenue also rose 26% year over year to $2.6 billion. The company's top-line guidance for fiscal year 2018 went up to a range of $9 - 9.5 billion, surpassing the consensus $9.06 billion on the top end.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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