Is a New Housing Bubble in the Making?

May 29, 2013 8:05am

Morning Business Memo…

Happy days are here again for the housing market with double-digit price gains compared with a year ago. Prices rose at the fastest pace since 2006, before the housing bubble popped. Millions of homeowners who were underwater with their mortgages no longer have that problem. Most housing experts believe the market will continue to improve. “Although we’ve come back up since the bottom we’re still well off peak levels,” Craig Lazzara of S&P Dow Jones Indices tells ABC News Radio.

House flipping is back in some local markets, especially in California and the Southwest, where homebuyers are making bids on almost anything they can find. Prices rose at an annual rate more than 20 percent in the San Francisco, Las Vegas and Phoenix metro areas.

Some are asking the current rate of price growth sustainable? “The answer I would read from all that is that it is,” says Lazzara. But the housing revival has many investors asking whether the Federal Reserve will soon change course and reduce its purchases of bonds and mortgage-backed securities.

The 10 year Treasury note reached 2.19 percent – the highest level since the spring of 2012. Mortgage rates are rising, although they are still near record low levels.

Remember when laptops were cool? That’s so last decade. Research firm IDC has revised its forecast, and now expects tablets to outsell laptops this year, and by 2015, tablet shipments will be bigger that the entire market for PCs. Desktop computers will still be important for business use, but consumers worldwide are switching to tablets and other mobile devices. According to IDC 55 percent of tablets sold this year will have a screen size of less than 8 inches. Apple started the tablet craze with the 9.7-inch screen iPad. The iPad Mini was introduced last year to compete with 7-inch Android tablets.

Wal-Mart has pleaded guilty to charges of dumping hazardous waste in California. The nation’s largest retailer will pay more than $80 million. A spokeswoman says Wal-Mart entered the plea in federal court to misdemeanor counts of negligently dumping pollutants from its stores into sanitation drains across California.

The recent rally for Netflix shares may have been arrested. The hoopla surrounding the return of “Arrested Development” has dissolved into a letdown on Wall Street. Netflix’s stock fell more than 6 percent in trading yesterday as investors reacted to critics’ mixed reviews of the first new “Arrested Development” episodes since the Fox broadcast network canceled the series seven years ago. Netflix released all 15 episodes of the resurrected series at the same time. Netflix had 29.2 million US subscribers in March. The company is hoping positive buzz about “Arrested Development” will help add as many as 880,000 more customers by the end of June.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesabc

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