Thursday, October 20, 2011

Photos: America's Best Downtowns @forbes

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Here is a link to a list of articles that were recently written on Greenville, SC

Here is a link to a list of articles that were recently written on Greenville, SC you might just find interesting:

Copy and paste it in your web browser if you have trouble connecting!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Great Article - Greenville Vacations, Tourism and Travel

Great article I found on Greenville Vacations, Tourism and Travel check out this website!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

5 Great Reasons to Sell Your House Today by KCM Crew

5 Great Reasons to Sell Your House Today
by The KCM Crew on September 6, 2011 · 3 comments

in For Sellers,Pricing

ShareShare We are often asked “Is it time to sell my home?” The answer to that question is based on what your families’ goals are. If you don’t need or want to move for a few years it might make sense to wait for the housing industry to recover and prices to appreciate. However, if you wish to move within the next six to eighteen months, it is probably better to sell sooner rather than later. Here are five reasons why:

Your House Will Get More Exposure Now Than the Winter
Housing sales usually level off in the summer and then regain momentum in September and October. The spring buyers’ market has passed. Don’t miss the early fall market. It has consistently outperformed the winter season.

Distressed Properties Will Impact Prices
Distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) on the market will increase this fall and winter. This will put tremendous downward pressure on prices for at least the next 12-18 months. Get your home sold before they become your competition.

Mortgages Will Become More Difficult to Attain
Lending standards are continuing to tighten. There is legislation currently being considered that will make it even harder for buyers to qualify. Less demand will equate to lower prices.

It is the Perfect Time to Move-Up
With prices where they are and interest rates at all time lows, there may have never been a better time to move-up into your dream home. If you move into a more desirable home now, you will be in position to gain larger equity as prices eventually appreciate.

You Get to Move On with Your Life
Probably the most important reason to sell is so you can get on with your life. You are considering selling for a reason. Do not allow a less-than-stellar housing market prevent you from reaching your goals as an individual or as a family. Think about the reasons you are thinking about moving. Are these reasons really important to you? If you have to take less than you were originally hoping to get for your house, your family has a question to ask each other: Is the dollar difference in sales price worth putting off our plans? Only you and your family know the answer to that question.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Results Are In... And It Looks Like Everyone Hates Wallpaper!

The Results Are In... And It Looks Like Everyone Hates Wallpaper!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Greenville Gets Top Rank among Cities of the Future

Greenville Gets Top Rank among Cities of the FutureMadeleine Greenville PRESS RELEASE
Share|fDi Intelligence, a specialist division of the Financial Times, has ranked Greenville, SC as number one on its first ever list of the top 10 micro cities of the future. The magazine and its website used a variety of factors in the categories of Economic Potential, Cost Effectiveness, Human Resources, Quality of Life, Infrastructure and Business Friendliness in making their assessments.

The Infrastructure category included technology factors like speed of internet. Business Friendliness also measured a number of companies which have been identiefied as being within the high tech manufacturing and service sectors.

via fDi Intelligence

America’s Best Cities For Young Professionals

America’s Best Cities For Young Professionals
Jul. 12 2011 - 10:22 am
see photosAP PhotoClick for full photo gallery: In Pictures: The 15 Best Cities For Young Adults
With the unemployment rate stuck above 9%, recent college graduates are facing fierce competition for white-collar work: More than 2 million college-educated workers 25 and older are unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But prospects are much brighter in some cities than others, most notably Des Moines, Iowa, which ranks No. 1 on our list of Best Cities For Young Professionals.

The Iowa state capital has a higher concentration of big businesses (1 for every 568 residents) than any other city we assessed, which equals more job opportunities. Financial services and insurance companies like Principal Financial Group and EMC Insurance Companies have long made their home in the corn-belt city, earning it the nickname “Hartford of the West.”

With business costs 16% below the national average, Des Moines has been attracting startups and companies relocating from the coasts, and a number of established companies in the area are expanding, like DuPont’s bioscience unit Pioneer Hi-Bred, which plans to hire an additional 500 employees over the next few years. As a result, Des Moines boasts a low 5.8% unemployment rate (sixth lowest of the 100 cities we studied) and healthy projected job growth rates of 0.97% in 2011 and 2.86% in 2012.

In Pictures: The 15 Best Cities For Young Professionals

“We’re encountering a lot of young individuals moving here from larger cities where it would take five or 10 years to ascend into positions, where here they are having opportunities given to them to move more quickly into their career paths.” says Mary Bontrager, vice president of workforce for the Greater Des Moines Partnership, a regional economic development organization.

The median salary for employed college graduates between the ages of 24 and 34 in the city is $47,200. That ranks only 42nd out of the 100 cities we screened for the list, but that salary goes further in Des Moines, where living costs are 8% lower than the national average, making it the 22nd least expensive city.

Behind The Numbers

To determine the best cities for young professionals, which we define as adults aged from 24 to 34 who hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher, we started with the 100 largest U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas (cities and the suburbs surrounding them) as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. We assessed these cities based on seven factors, weighting them evenly: local unemployment rates and 2010 to 2012 job growth projections provided by Moody’s; Census Bureau data on the number of small businesses (defined as less than 500 employees) per capita, as well as the number of large businesses; the median salaries for 24- to 34-year-old employed college graduates, provided by; Moody’s cost-of living index, to gauge how far those paychecks will go; and the percentage of the population aged 25 and older with college degrees in the area.

In second place on our list: Raleigh, N.C. The college town turned boom town, which tops our Best Places for Business and Careers list this year, has the fourth best job growth outlook of the cities we studied (2% a year for 2010-12) and a 7.9% unemployment rate that’s well below the national average. With an abundance of colleges and universities in the area such as University of North Carolina and Duke University, and Research Triangle, a major center for high-tech and biotech research, more than 42% of the local population touts BA degrees, making it the most educated of the cities we looked at.

In Pictures: The 15 Best Cities For Young Professionals

Midwestern cities eclipsed many glitzier coastal competitors for top spots on our list. In addition to Des Moines, Madison, Wis., ranks third; billionaire Warren’s Buffett’s hometown of Omaha, Neb., is No. 5; and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., is No. 10. All three tout low unemployment rates and a large college-educated demographic. The cost of living in each of these areas is around or below the national average, ensuring their young residents’ relatively high salaries go even farther. Healthy job growth is projected in all of these heartland hubs as well.

A few northeast metropolises cracked the top 15: hedge fund heavy Fairfield County, Conn. (No. 15); Portland, Maine (No. 6), which boasts the highest number of small businesses per capita of the cities we screened; government-town Washington, D.C. (No. 9); and the education and tech hub of Boston, Mass. (No. 12). No West Coast cities made the cut.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday - Market News Provided By TBWS

Market News Provided By TBWS

Mortgage prices were under pressure in early trading. Equity futures were stronger prior to the opening as the problems in Europe seem to have moved to a more promising solution. At the opening of the stock markets the DJIA was higher but not as high as the futures were indicating earlier in the morning. Mortgage prices were down by 6/32, unchanged from earlier in the morning. The 10-year note yield is pushing the 3.0% mark, 2.99% at the stock market opening.

The unfolding talks in Europe over Greek debt have brought us a pending compromise whereby the ECB will allow Greece to temporarily slip into default as part of a broader agreement. The proposal involves a buyback of discounted Greek bonds to help Greece deal with the crippling effects of the current terms of their rescue. This agreement that is supported by Germany and France and the Dutch, is touted as the most promising way to get private investors involved in the second rescue package. The implications for a rescue package for Portugal, Ireland, and then Italy and Spain are perhaps looking better as the compromise over Greek debt comes to a head.

Economic news in Europe was weaker as the French and German equivalent to our PMI was reported close to contraction. In addition, China’s factory sector reported a contraction for the first time in a year. These are more signs that the global economy is slowing and that it will filter over to our economy as we have seen of late.

At 8:30am weekly jobless claims were reported up 10K to 418K for the week ending 7/16. Continuing claims fell to 3.698M from 3.748M for the week ending 7/09. The 4-week moving average fell by 2,750 to 421,250 claims. There was no market reaction to the rise in claims.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported at 10:00am that home prices for May were +0.4% versus +0.8% in April.

Lastly at 10:00am The Philadelphia Fed Index for July came in at 3.2 on expectations of about a 2.5 read from June’s negative read of -7.7. Equity markets rose on the news and mortgage prices gave up about 1/32.

SunTrust Rates effective on Friday, July 21, 2011 at 9:55 AM ET.
The rates below are indications for 60 day lock-ins on single family, owner-occupied properties with a loan to value ratio of 80% or less. Rates, points and closing costs may vary based on loan features, geography and/or other terms and conditions. Rates, points and closing costs are subject to change without notice.
Interest Rate Discount Points
Origination Fee
Annual Percentage Rate
30 Yr Fixed Conventional 4.500% 0.250 1.000% 4.638%
15 Yr Fixed Conventional 3.750% 0.000 1.000% 3.945%
30 Yr Jumbo Fixed 5.125% 0.000 1.000% 5.239%
Agency 5/1 ARM 30 Yr 2.875% 0.375 1.000% 2.590%
Agency 7/1 ARM 30 Yr 3.250% 0.375 1.000% 2.837%
30 Yr FHA - Fixed 4.375% 0.250 1.000% 5.041%
Additional rate and point quotes are available; please contact me for more information.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Greenville Getaway published in Womans Day

Check out this website for an awesome article published in Womans Day on Greenville Getaway Untitled Page: via @AddThis

ButterflyByWays: Greenville Chefs Change the Culinary Landscape

ButterflyByWays: Greenville Chefs Change the Culinary Landscape: "Restaurants Offer New Twist on Old Favorites Greenville, S.C. – Eating in Greenville used to involve visiting the local mom and po..."

Why It's Time To Buy

Back in June 2006, when the housing market peaked, the prospect of a five-year national housing bust seemed unimaginable to most people. And yet here we are, with the latest Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller index showing that prices hit new bear-market lows, falling back to 2002 levels nationally and to 1990s levels in some battered regions.

April Home Prices
See the change in home prices from April 2010 to April 2011, state by state.

View Interactive

Home Prices, by Metro Area
See data from the 20 metro areas Case-Shiller tracks.

View Interactive

Despite all the gloom, however, there are growing indications that it is a good time to buy. Mortgage rates, which fell to 4.55% for the week ending June 2, according to Freddie Mac, are near 50-year lows. Homes have become more affordable than they have been in years: According to Moody's Analytics, the ratio of home prices to income is now 20.9% lower than the 15-year average through 2010, and 12.5% lower than the 1989-2004 average. A historic glut of homes, meanwhile, has created a buyer's market: There were about 15 million vacant homes in the U.S. last year, according to John Burns Real Estate ConsultingInc.—some 3.1 million more than normal.

Such conditions might not last long. Moody's Analytics predicts that the number of distressed sales will begin to fall in 2013, and that prices will begin to edge upward then. Home building is at a virtual standstill, so the supply overhang isn't likely to get much worse. Meanwhile, demographic indicators such as "household formation"—the number of new households each year—are on the rise, and promise to take a bite out of the glut in coming years.


As rates hover near historic lows, experts expect banks to ease borrowing standards over time.

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Getty Images

Greenwich, Conn.


If prices stabilize, it could tip the balance away from fear and pull more buyers back into the market.

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Getty Images



In several markets, it's becoming cheaper to own than to rent.

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Cleveland Heights, Ohio


The rate of "household formation" is expected to climb in coming years.

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Providence, R.I.


The strength of the housing recovery depends on job growth.

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Associated Press

Journal Community
Discuss: Is home ownership a good investment? The upshot: "While we might not see rapid growth in the next couple of years, there are a tremendous number of positive signs that could lead to a rebound," says Anthony Sanders, a real-estate finance professor at George Mason University.

The short-term outlook isn't encouraging. Job growth remains weak, foreclosure sales are making up more of the market, and economists are predicting that home prices will fall more in the coming months.

But the long-term benefits of homeownership remain very much intact. For now, at least, you can deduct the mortgage interest on your taxes—a big perk for people in higher tax brackets. You get to paint your walls any color you wish, without having to clear it with a landlord. And assuming you can buy a home for about the same price as you can rent one, buying will give you the ability one day to live rent-free. Come retirement time, a paid-off mortgage means your monthly expenses are significantly reduced, and you have a chunk of equity to play with.

So what might the next five years look like? Once the foreclosure mess begins to clear up, say housing economists, the traditional drivers of the housing market—demographics, affordability, loan availability, employment and psychology—should take over.

Here is a glimmer of what the future may hold: While overall home prices fell by 7.5% in April over the same period a year earlier, according to CoreLogic, a Santa Ana, Calif., provider of real-estate data and analytics, if you exclude distressed sales, prices were off just 0.5%. So if you are in a market that isn't battered by foreclosures, you may be close to a bottom already.

"The regular marketplace is hanging tough," says CoreLogic chief economist Mark Fleming.

Here is a look at five key factors that will govern local markets over the next several years:

Household formation fell during the economic downturn as a weak economy led some people to stay in school, double up with roommates or move in with family members. According to Moody's Analytics, the number of new households renting or owning a home dropped to 578,000 in 2008 from nearly 2 million in 2005, just before the peak of the housing boom.

But household formation increased to nearly 950,000 last year, says Moody's, and should average 1.2 million over the next decade.

The Mortgage Calculator How Much House Can You Afford? How Much Second Home Can You Afford?
That, combined with increased obsolescence and higher demand for second homes, should begin sopping up excess inventory in much of the country over the next two years, Moody's says.

"Whatever the excess supply of housing is, it is shrinking pretty fast," says Thomas Lawler, an independent housing economist.

Some of the uptick in household formation is likely to come from the leading edge of the echo baby boomers, who have been waiting for the economy to recover before striking out on their own, says William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution. That is likely to fuel an increase in demand for both rental apartments and starter homes.

The portion of people moving across the country has fallen to the lowest level since World War II, he adds. That is a sign that many people have put their lives on hold because of the weak economy.

"When things do pick up, there will be this pent-up demand for everything involved with starting a household," Mr. Frey says.

Of course, when prices in healthier regions begin to rise, many would-be sellers who have sat on the sidelines could begin putting homes on the market, muting the price gains at first, says Susan Wachter, a professor of real estate and finance at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. Even so, she expects home prices to stabilize and begin to strengthen over the next two or three years.

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There also are some powerful demographic cross-currents worth considering. The first baby boomers turned 65 in January, an age when demand for new homes falls and many begin to think about downsizing. "The baby-boom generation pushed prices up as they got older," says Dowell Myers, a professor of urban planning and demography at the University of Southern California. But in the coming years, "boomers will start flooding the market on the supply side" with larger homes, while fueling new demand for smaller properties with more services and amenities.

Rising home prices made renting cheaper than buying in many parts of the country. But that dynamic has begun to change: Housing affordability, as measured by the ratio of median home prices to median household incomes, has fallen below pre-housing bubble levels in just over two-thirds of the country, according to an analysis of more than 380 metro areas by Moody's Analytics.

Renting is still cheaper than buying in most markets, but rising rents and falling house prices mean that, in some areas, this won't be the case for long. Buying a home is already cheaper than renting in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Orlando, Fla., according to Moody's Analytics. In other markets, including Dallas, Las Vegas and Sacramento, Cailf., the equation is likely to soon turn in favor of homeownership if current trends persist, the firm says.

In Ann Arbor, Mich., where home prices fell 11.2% between 2007 and 2010, according to Fiserv Case-Shiller, housing affordability has risen well above historical levels, according to Moody's Analytics.

That is good news for home buyers such as Steven Upton, a 42-year-old photographer, who in June will close on four-bedroom brick house on 10 acres in an upscale community in Ann Arbor. Mr. Upton paid $400,000 for the home, which previously listed for $600,000. "It's a tremendous deal," he says.

Before buying a house, it is wise to compare rental prices for similar properties. To be ultraconservative, wait until the monthly outlays, including taxes and insurance, are equal. You also could factor in the tax savings of owning, which would make buying more attractive even if the gross monthly outlay is slightly higher.

The strength of the housing market depends largely on the economy. Rising incomes and increased employment tend to give more would-be buyers confidence and buying power. For now, job growth remains sluggish: On Friday the Labor Department reported that just 54,000 jobs were created in May, far below expectations.

But signs of how a stronger job market could fuel housing demand are evident in the Dallas metro area, which added 83,100 new jobs in the 12 months ending in April—the largest gain in the nation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Dallas never had a big housing boom or bust and has benefited from trade with Mexico, a strong telecommunications sector and a central location.

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The opportunities for a job with more responsibility drew Duane and Linda Elmer to Dallas from Des Moines, Iowa, where Mr. Elmer was a banker for nine years. The couple has agreed to pay $415,000 for a four-bedroom, four-bath house with a Jacuzzi and pool. Their Des Moines home, purchased nine years ago for $410,000, is on the market for $390,000. "We are willing to take the loss for the opportunity to live in a more diverse community and to take a job with greater breadth of responsibilities," Mr. Elmer says.

Borrowers like the Elmers who are relocating for job opportunities are a big driver of home sales in nearby Plano, Texas, says Harry Ridge, a real-estate agent. He says such sales accounted for 20% of his business last year.

A similar influx of job seekers is fueling housing demand in the Washington area, where 25,700 new jobs were added in the 12 months since April 2010. Washington was the only one of the 20 cities tracked by Standard & Poor's and Case-Shiller that saw home prices rise both on a month-to-month and year-over-year basis.

Mortgage financing remains plentiful for borrowers with good credit scores and solid employment histories. But for borrowers who don't fit traditional lending standards, getting a loan can still be nearly impossible. In the first quarter, about 10% of banks tightened standards for nontraditional loans, according to the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, higher down-payment standards are locking some would-be buyers out of the market. Just 35% of renters have the minimum 3.5% down payment needed for an FHA loan on the median-priced home in their market, according to a recent survey by Zelman Associates.

Credit is likely to remain tight for at least the next six months, says Clifford Rossi, a former Citigroup Inc. consumer-lending executive who teaches at the University of Maryland.

But conditions should improve over time, he says: "There's no question that it will gradually get easier."

That will be welcome news to borrowers like Greg Silver. The 50-year-old real-estate developer would like to buy a second home, but hasn't been able to secure a jumbo mortgage because his income consists of capital gains from sales of the properties he develops. Mr. Silver closed three sales in the past 12 months, netting him a total of more than $25 million, but didn't record any capital gains in 2008 and 2009. Sure, he could use some of that cash to buy a home outright, but he would prefer to mortgage it, get the tax deduction and keep his cash free for business purposes.

"It's a little devastating," says Mr. Silver, who is living in Greenwich, Conn.

The long-term case for buying over renting remains in force. Yet nowadays, "People are simply scared," says Aaron Galvin, chief executive of Luxury Living Chicago, which finds rental apartments for wealthy clients.

Mr. Galvin says he has seen a 30% increase in business in the last year, driven by would-be home buyers who can afford to purchase a property but are choosing not to do so.

The portion of Americans who believe homeownership is a safe investment dropped to 66% in the first quarter from 83% in 2006, according to Fannie Mae, the government-controlled mortgage company.

But it isn't clear whether the fear will result in a prolonged change in attitudes, as during the Great Depression, or have little long-term impact, as was the case for the housing bust that shook California and the Northeast in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Eighty-seven percent of people surveyed by Fannie Mae said they preferred owning to renting, though access to schools, control over one's environment and other quality-of-life issues now are seen as the key benefits of homeownership, with building wealth and other financial factors viewed as less important. In addition, 67% of renters surveyed by Zelman Associates said they planned to buy a home in the next five years.

Jeffrey Connor may be a bellwether for the future of the housing market. The 40-year-old finance director at a corporate law firm says he thought briefly about buying a house when he moved to Chicago from Washington in October. But he opted instead to rent a luxury two-story apartment in downtown Chicago for $3,559 a month. Mr. Connor says it will take substantial job growth and a sharp drop in foreclosures to convince him to buy.

"The market is clearly soft," he says, "especially when we consider it good news that the unemployment rate is hovering around 9% instead of 10%." Mr. Connor says he isn't worried about missing out on today's low interest rates and will consider buying once unemployment falls to 6%.

Other buyers are showing less willingness to wait for the absolute perfect time to buy. Doug Yearly, chief executive of luxury builder Toll Brothers Inc., told investors in May that "some of our clients, after waiting so long, are starting to move off the fence and into the market, motivated by attractive pricing, low interest rates and, most important, the desire to take the next step in their lives. The family with elementary-school kids and a puppy when the housing debacle began five years ago now has middle-school kids and the dog weighs 80 pounds."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

US Airways - Best City Parks by April White

Let's Go
June, 2011

Best City Parks
April White

New York City
The High Line, built on a former elevated railway, is a unique public park that runs two stories above street level from the meatpacking district to Hell’s Kitchen. It can’t rival Central Park for green space (can anything?) but the High Line is a strong contender in the people-watching category. For those on the West Side, it’s a sweet spot for walking, picnicking, and checking out the ever-changing public art.


San Diego
With 17 museums, 20 gardens, and miles of trails, it’s easy to get overwhelmed (in a good way) at Balboa Park. Don’t miss the world-famous rose garden, in bloom from March through December, and the quirky tradition of lawn bowling (lessons available).


Just five years ago, much of Discovery Green was a huge parking lot. Now it’s a 12-acre park with promenades, fountains, a playground, jogging trails, dog runs, and a lake (with remote-control sailboat races).


New Orleans
You can golf, boat, bike, or horseback ride — or pack a muffuletta and just picnic under City Park’s 600-year-old live oaks.


Bird lovers have found a home in the city’s rugged Discovery Park. Located on 500 acres overlooking Puget Sound, the park is home to 270 different species. Plus, there are popular guided tours for one of the most common species: the novice bird watcher.


Greenville, South Carolina
It’s hard to decide which is more beautiful: Falls Park’s elegant suspension footbridge, a favorite spot for an evening stroll from downtown, or the rushing Reedy River Falls below the bridge.


St. Louis
September’s Great Forest Park Balloon Race, when 70 hot-air balloons launch from Central Field, may be the biggest attraction, but on any fair-weather day you’ll find tennis, golf, soccer, softball, and hiking in this 1,400-acre park.


It’s said that no matter where you are in Philadelphia, Fairmount Park is less than a mile away. The 9,200-acre park has something for every­one: people-watching in Rittenhouse Square, biking along Kelly Drive, hiking in the Wissahickon, and in the winter, sledding at Belmont Plateau.


Boston Common has the name recognition, but Boston Public Garden has the swan boats. The unique boats have been a fixture of the flower-filled, perfect-for-strolling park for more than 130 years.


One of the country’s most unusual city parks: Oakland Cemetery, where Atlantans picnic, jog, and even marry amid the gravestones.


Washington, D.C.
Rock Creek Park follows its namesake creek through the district, a path that includes wide swaths of wilderness for hiking and narrow slivers of urban running trails. Get your workout as you sightsee: the park skirts the National Zoo, the U.S. Naval Observatory, and the Kennedy Center.


Many of the Mile High City’s 200-plus parks are interconnected by 80 miles (!) of paved, car-free urban trails. A cyclist’s dream.


San Francisco
Yes, Golden Gate Park has it all — unless you’re under the age of eight. Then you want to be at Yerba Buena Gardens, one of the country’s coolest playgrounds. There are slides, a jungle gym, a carousel, a labyrinth, and plenty of places for parents to sit back and enjoy. Raining? It’s right next to San Francisco’s children’s museum.


The lakeside Millennium Park has quickly become the city’s cultural town square, hosting hundreds of free concerts and compelling public art. A photograph of yourself peering into the curious, mesmerizing Cloud Gate sculpture is a must.


Don’t expect lush lawns and elaborate flower gardens. South Mountain Park, just a few miles from downtown, is all dramatic desert. Its 16,000 acres of rocky, dry terrain are a mountain biker’s paradise.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Greenville's Swamp Rabbit Trail by Southern Living

Tour the South's Bike Trails Get a new perspective on the South from some of the best bike trails. From beginner to expert trails, there's one out there for everyone.
New Orleans Birmingham Greenville Find Your Ride Greenville's Swamp Rabbit Trail This flat trail along a former rail line is the perfect spot for a leisurely ride with the family.ShareThis | Print | Email | Add Comment | Read All Comments (3)Text size:AAA

The Swamp Rabbit Trail is the ideal bike trail for beginner bikers or families.

Photo: Chris M. Rogers

Click to Enlarge
More Rails to Trails

Missouri's Katy Trail
This trail runs 225 miles along the Missouri River through the small towns of the Show-Me State's wine county. Virginia Creeper Trail
Located in Southwest Virginia, this trail is ideal for family cruisers, most of whom coast a 17-mile downhill from Whitetop Mountain to the tiny town of Damascus.
The Ride
A former rail line, this 13.5-mile South Carolina trail is blissfully flat and traffic-free, connecting Greenville to Travelers Rest along a scenic stretch of the Reedy River. Roll beneath Liberty Bridge in Greenville’s Falls Park, adjacent to dramatic waterfalls. At the midpoint, a connector path meanders around Furman Lake.

Your Guide
You. (It’s hard to get lost.) You can hitch a ride back on one of Greenville’s buses, equipped with bike racks to offer “shuttles” to and from Travelers Rest. For more info on the trail, visit Greenville Rec.

You'll Love It If...
You’ve got kids or hate traffic. It’s straight, hill-free, and closed to cars.

Gear Up
Reedy Rides will deliver a bicycle to you, with a helmet, bag, and lock.

Kim Cross and Graham Averill|From the May 2011 Magazine Issue Add Comment | Read All Comments (3)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Market Snapshot by Sigma Research - Thursday's Report

Thursday, May 12, 2011
Three data points at 8:30 this morning; weekly jobless claims were expected to have declined 50K last week, as reported claims were down 44K after increasing 43K the previous week. Continuing claims 3.756 mil frm 3.751; the 4 wk average of claims 436K from 432K the previous week. April retail sales were reported up 0.5% overall, when auto ales are taken out sales were up 0.6%; about in line with estimates. April producer price index hit a little hot, up 0.8% overall, excluding food and energy up 0.3%; both were a little higher than forecasts. Yr/yr overall PPI +6.8%, ex food and energy +2.1%.

The 8:30 data taken well by all markets initially; the bond and mortgage markets were fractionally better prior to 8:30 and showed no movement on the data but we are somewhat concerned about how the bond market will take the increases in the PPI data. The increase, although minor, won't likely sit well for rate markets. With interest rates at these low levels any sniff that inflation may increase, whether real or imagined, will hinder bond markets.

The stock market supporting rate markets this morning with the indexes trading weaker prior to the 9:30 open. At 9:00 the DJIA -42, the 10 yr note about unchanged from yesterday's auction when a new 10 yr note was issued. Mortgage prices at 9:00 +.03 bp. At 9:30 the DJIA opened -23, the 10 yr note rate at 3.19% up frm 3.16% on the old 10 yr yesterday but -2 bp frm the auction yesterday; mortgage prices -.06 bp.

At 10:00 March business inventories expected up 0.9%, were up 1.0%, sales up 2.2%, Feb revised from +0.2% to +0.5%. The inventory to sales ratio a record low at 1.23 months from 1.24 months in Feb. No reaction.

Crude oil and gold, along with most other commodities continue to fall as the commodity trade that pushed most every commodity higher and to excess is ending with huge declines. Crude oil on Monday climbed back up to $103.50, at 9:00 this morning trading at $97.00. Yesterday gasoline futures came under heavy selling pressure pushing prices to limit down in the futures markets.

The Senate Banking Committee is starting hearings today on the Dodd Frank bill that in our view was Congress running amok. Bernanke along with FDIC Chair Sheila Bair, SEC Chair Mary Schapiro, CFTC Chair Gary Gensler, and Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin. There had to be some legislation to rein in the large banks that clearly demonstrated they have little self control and really demonstrated in the sub prime catastrophe that management of these huge banks didn't have a clue about what was happening in their banks. Most of the other stuff in the Dodd Frank bill was mostly unnecessary in its detail and complexity. Bernanke is expected to support the bill, many Republicans want the bill tossed into the trash.

At 1:00 Treasury will auction $16B of 30 yr bonds, it will be a new issue of 30s. Yesterday the 10 yr auction met with good demand; today's auction will also likely see firm demand according to traders we talk with. If however the 30 doesn't meet expectations rates will likely come under additional pressure. The 10 yr note still cannot clear 3.14%, the yield level achieved in early March before running up to 3.60%. Technically the bond and mortgage markets are still in overbought conditions; as noted yesterday, the longer the 10 yr fails to break resistance the more likelihood rates will notch up a little. Logic being, why continue to hold the 10 yr if this is the best the market can do; there is always hot money in the bond markets (trading on short term outlooks), that money moves quickly when the markets seems to run out of momentum.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Market Snapshot by Sigma Research - Wednesday's Report

Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Yesterday ended 8 straight days of improvement in the bond and mortgage markets, the 10 yr yield increased 5 bp and mortgages up 4 bp. This morning in early trading the 10 down 2/32 at 9:00 and mortgage prices down 3/32 (.09 bp). The 10 yr note driver for mortgages hit 3.14% the level hit in March and failed to break through for three days, the FNMA 4.0 coupon tested but couldn't break its 200 day moving average. Technical momentum oscillators have been in very overbought levels for 4 days. Unlikely the bullish longer term outlook will change but traders will be cautious here and prices may fall further.

At 8:30 the March international trade deficit was $48.18B, Feb deficit was $45.4B. The deficit was in line with forecasts and estimates, no reaction to it. High oil prices in March drove imports up eclipsing exports. Crude oil costs that surged above $100 a barrel for the first time in more than a year and a 9.4% drop in the dollar will probably keep driving up the cost of imports. The weaker dollar however will continue to support exports to emerging markets, China and India.

Mortgage applications increased 8.2% from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending May 6, 2011 on lower interest rates. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 8.2% on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. The Refinance Index increased 9.0% from the previous week, and is at its highest level since the week ending March 18, 2011. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 6.7% from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 7.1% compared with the previous week and was 25.8% lower than the same week one year ago. The four week moving average for the seasonally adjusted Market Index is up 2.9%. The four week moving average is up 0.4% for the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index, while this average is up 4.3% for the Refinance Index. The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 63.1% of total applications from 62.7% the previous week. The refinance share is at its highest level since the week ending March 25, 2011. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 6.5% from 6.7% of total applications from the previous week. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 4.67% from 4.76%, with points increasing to 1.10 from 0.75 (including the origination fee) for 80% loans. The 30-year rate is at its lowest since December 2010. The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 3.81% from 3.96%, with points increasing to 1.05 from 0.82 (including the origination fee) for 80% loans. The 15-year rate is at its lowest since November 2010.

At 9:30 the DJIA opened down 46 points pulling the 10 yr note back to unchanged and mortgages just .03 bp lower from yesterday's close. With equity markets starting weaker and the dollar stronger mortgages and treasuries have gotten a boost from earlier lower prices, but with the 10 yr auction this afternoon the rate markets will likely sit still this morning.

At 1:00 pm Treasury will auction $24B of 10 yr notes, the demand will be critical to hold rates at these levels. In the meantime we don't look fro any market improvements into the auction, this afternoon after 1:00 look for increased trade on auction results.

At 2:00 this afternoon Treasury will report the April budget data, estimates are for a monthly deficit of $60.0B.

The dollar is stronger against the euro this morning. Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said that inflation remains “uncomfortably high,” and officials signaled they may need to raise interest rates later this year even as the economy struggles to build momentum. Inflation across the world is persisting, putting pressure on central banks to withdraw stimulus and raise interest rates. In China, inflation held above 5 percent in April and lending exceeded analysts’ estimates, according to reports today. Germany’s rate jumped to 2.7 percent, more than initially estimated, separate data released today showed.

Crude oil rallied yesterday, this morning down $1.79 at 9:45; choppy as markets continue to assess demand against supply. Higher margin costs have eliminated some speculators that do not have deep pockets; volatility increase also keeps specs from aggressive trading.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Picture-perfect Greenville, S.C. By Becky Krystal The Washington Post

Picture-perfect Greenville, S.C.
By Becky Krystal
The Washington Post
Posted: 05/07/2011 06:17:02 PM MDTUpdated: 05/07/2011 06:17:27 PM MDT

Old and new buildings line the Reedy River in downtown Greenville, S.C., which has been revitalized since the 1970s. (Becky Krystal, The Washington Post)I take a lot of photos when I travel. My digital camera can capture hundreds on each trip. But the most indelible images from my recent visit to Greenville, S.C., are the ones impressed on my mind's eye.

Picture-perfect vignettes seemed to compose themselves before me everywhere I looked: a young woman playfully waltzing in the fading afternoon sun inside an old riverside factory. Three tykes in matching pastel green outfits posing for the camera in a garden. Two chess players ensconced in the catacomb-like coolness beneath a bridge. A solitary writer perched on a cliff overlooking the river.

This area of the South Carolina upcountry had already worked its magic on me about a year earlier when I visited nearby Spartanburg. But Greenville, I learned, hadn't always been so picturesque.

"We used to always be told never to go downtown," said artist Patti Rishforth, a Greenville native whom I found in her silhoutte and portrait studio on the ground level of a mixed-use development along the Reedy River. "It's changed like night and day."

Downtown flourished after World War I, according to a memorial on North Main Street honoring former mayor Max Heller. But it began to decline in the 1950s and '60s with the growth of suburban shopping centers. In the 1970s, Heller and the city made revitalizing downtown a priority, and their efforts paid off. Today, the tree-lined heart of town boasts restaurants, boutiques and plazas ideal for whiling away a sunny afternoon.

Still, even as recently as a decade ago, Rishforth said, the southern end of downtown, near the Reedy, was less than charming. She recalled cutting through abandoned lots to have picnics with her young son by the river. Now, the area is a popular park, completing the flow of pedestrian-friendly attractions.

"It's got that European feel to it," said Diane Ludwig, who relocated from Charleston three years ago to open the dog-centric Barkery Bistro with her daughter. Such quirky, upscale storefronts are common along North and South Main Street, including one urging passers-by to "get your 'chi' moving."

I wasn't sure about my chi's mobility, but I knew that I wanted to give the rest of my body a workout on the Swamp Rabbit Tram Trail, a nearly 14-mile walking and biking path that runs north from Greenville to the city of Travelers Rest.

Riverside ride

On my first morning in town, local outfitter Reedy Rides delivered a spiffy white bike to my hotel, the Westin Poinsett. The city is about five years into its "Bikeville" initiative, a push to become a bicycle- friendly community, and so far, the Swamp Rabbit is the most prominent result of that effort. With so much enthusiasm surrounding the trail, I worried that my leisurely ride might turn into a two-wheeled game of Frogger. But although more people were out than I'd expect on a weekday morning, I wasn't overwhelmed. In fact, my only near-collisions were with one scampering lizard and a few dangling inchworms.

The trail runs along the Reedy, which provides a soothing soundtrack of gurgling water, at least in the spots where traffic and railroad noise don't drown it out. Similarly, the scents emanating from the abundant greenery are occasionally lost among the fertilizer-like odors that permeate the air near a number of chemical plants not far from downtown. Farther north, as the trail approaches Furman University, the landscape takes a turn for the residential.

The Furman campus is new relative to the school's age; the university relocated to the current site in 1958 after about 100 years downtown. Boasting a lake ringed by its own biking and walking trail, the campus is a perfect scenic detour for riders on the Swamp Rabbit trail. And the students seem to be big into two-wheeling it, too.

I found plenty of reasons to hop off my bike and explore several campus attractions on foot, including a replica of Henry David Thoreau's cabin at Walden Pond, a vegetable garden, a Japanese temple and the university's iconic Italian- style belltower.

After an hour or so of pretending to be a college student again, I continued north to the aptly named Travelers Rest for lunch at the Cafe @ Williams Hardware. The restaurant, which backs up to the trail, has become a designated place for cyclists to chain up their bikes and have a good meal.

Back in Greenville that afternoon, an excursion to the city zoo took me through the heart of Falls Park on the Reedy, where the river tumbles over large rocks in gauzy patterns. On this busy spring day, I narrowly avoided so many strollers and dog-walkers that about halfway through the park, I gave up and pushed my bike out of the throngs.

Having surrendered my wheels, I returned to the park that evening to explore the area further on foot. A focal point is the Liberty Bridge, a futuristic-looking structure that, hello, bobs underfoot with every step. As the sun set, my attention turned to North and South Main Street, strung with twinkly lights. At 9 p.m. on a Wednesday, the thoroughfare was bustling.

Continuing my car-less adventure the next day (I used my rental only to get between the city and the airport), I walked to the free Greenville County Museum of Art and then to Art Crossing, a series of studios where I met Rishforth and watercolor artist Ron Gillen. In addition to being a hot spot for restaurants and cycling, the region is apparently an artists haven. More than 140 participated in an open-studio event last fall.

Rishforth and Gillen both thrive on meeting visitors. What I'd intended as a few minutes' chat quickly turned into a nearly hour-long conversation when Gillen, an amateur historian of Greenville, began to regale me with the story of the city's evolution over the years. He was practically gleeful as he pulled out his watercolor depictions of the demolished old train station and explained his history-detective efforts to reproduce the architect's original plans for it.

I finally had to leave, but it was hard to pull myself away — from his narrative, and from this equally engrossing city.


Greenville, S.C., Insider's Guide
STAY: The Westin Poinsett, 120 S. Main St., 864-421-9700, Elegant historic hotel built in 1925. Rooms from $199.

DINE: Cafe @ Williams Hardware, 13 S. Main St., Travelers Rest, 864-834-7888, An ideal spot for cyclists in need of a meal. Lunch sandwiches from $5.50.

The Lazy Goat, 170 Riverplace, 864-679-5299, Impressive Mediterranean-themed food on the water. Dinner plates from $5.

Luna Rosa Gelato Cafe, 9 W. Washington St., 864-241-4040, Sample any or all of the flavors. Single scoop $3.95.

PLAY: Reedy Rides, 864-419-2944, Will deliver bicycles within a 3-mile radius of downtown. Four hours $15, eight hours $25, two days $45.

Swamp Rabbit Tram Trail, 864-288-6470, About 14 miles from Greenville to Travelers Rest.

Art Crossing, 100 and 200 Riverplace, Studios open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Greenville County Museum of Art, 420 College St., 864-271-7570, Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Free.

Greenville Zoo, 150 Cleveland Park Drive, 864-467-4300, Daily 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Adults $7.75, children 3-15 $4.50.

Kilgore-Lewis House, 560 N. Academy St., 864-232-3020, Gardens surrounding a historic house. Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free.


Read more: Picture-perfect Greenville, S.C. - The Denver Post
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Market Snapshot by Sigma Research - Tuesday's Report

Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Treasuries and mortgages continue to hold gains but fractionally lower early this morning; no selling just no buying ahead of today's $32B 3 yr note auction at 1:00. At 8:30 April import prices were reported up 2.2% and +11.1% yr/yr, export prices +1.1%; no noticeable reaction to the data. Earlier this morning the NFIB reported small business optimism declined again, at 91.2 in April frm 91.9 in March and the lowest reading since last October. The survey indicated small business owners concerned over inflation and the weakening economy; again no noticeable reaction.

At 9:30 the DJIA opened +23, the 10 yr note -4/32 at 3.17% +1 bp and mortgage prices -1/32 (.06 bp). Not much that can move markets today, similar to yesterday. Technically overbought bond and mortgage markets but the outlook is so bullish that traders see little reason so far to take profits. One factor we are watching, increasing margin rates for all commodities that are making it more expensive to participate in gold, silver, crude and others, pushing traders and investors out and into treasuries that are widely believed to move lower in rates. This morning the NYMEX announced crude oil margins will increase 25% at the end of the day today.

Republican congressional leaders are ruling out tax increases or a wider revenue base in talks on extending the U.S. government’s borrowing authority, creating a conflict with Democrats who would raise more money as well as cut spending. House speaker Boehner predicted that Congress would act on a broader revision of the tax code in the next two years, though he said that Republicans wouldn’t support it “as a way of increasing taxes on the American people or enterprises.” Boehner said that “without significant spending cuts and reforms to reduce our debt, there will be no debt limit increase.” Spending cuts “should be greater” than the amount of the “increase in debt authority” given to President Barack Obama, he said.
The ECB is working on another loan plan for Greece. Another loan package will buy time for Greece and the potential for a default will be pushed back, still no assurance that Greece will make in through; there is a meeting of the ECB coming on Monday to work out the plan. The International Monetary Fund also is arranging new aid for Greece, an 80 billion-euro ($115B) to 100 billion-euro plan. Greece’s money managers are warning of damage to an already crippled economy should European leaders move to restructure the country’s debt.
At 10:00 another data point that will go with little notice; March wholesale inventories, expected up 1.0%, were up 1.1%.
At 1:00 Treasury begins its quarterly refunding with $32B of 3 yr notes, given the strength in the rate markets the auction should see good demand. Tomorrow it is $24B of 10 yr notes that could be a problem; if however the auction is well bid the 10 will likely resume its rate decline and push mortgage rates lower with it. Recent activity in the MBS markets has been a little better than treasuries with good demand for FHA paper.
Crude oil is lower today after running up almost to recent highs at $114.00+; this morning with margin rates going up at the end of the session crude is down $0.57.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Market Snapshot by Sigma Research - Monday's Report

Monday, May 09, 2011
Treasuries and mortgages opened soft early this morning but by 9:00 were recovering with only minor price declines. No scheduled data today; most attention focused on the dollar and continuing concerns over Greece's debt. There was no additional news from the ECB or Greece over the weekend however. Last week the euro fell the most in a week since back in 2008 with concerns Greece would not be able to survive in the EU, this morning the dollar is slightly weaker against the currency. A weakening dollar continues to support US bond markets.

Crude oil fell almost $17.00, gold dropped $65.00, all commodities declined last week as most of the markets had become way to frothy leading the exchanges to increase margin rates. This morning crude started up over $2.00 but since has backed of a little, volatility in crude should be expected this week, the same with gold and silver and the rate markets. The economic outlook is being adjusted lower taking any concerns about inflation off the table. Some pundits beginning to talk about anther easing move from the Fed as the economic outlook deteriorated last week. Although the April employment report headlines were much better than thought (non-farm private jobs up 268K), markets generally ignored it; Friday no change in rates and only an anemic close for equity markets.

Treasury will conduct its quarterly refunding beginning tomorrow, auctioning $72B of 3 yr, 10 yr and 30 yr notes and bonds. We expect good demand for all three auctions with global economic outlooks softening and inflation fears that come and go are now less threatening.

This Week's Economic Calendar:
8:30 am April export and import prices (N/A)
10:00 am Mar wholesale inventories (+1.0%)
1:00 pm $32B 3 yr note auction
7:00 am Weekly MBA mortgage applications
8:30 am Mar Trade balance (-$47.7B)
1:00 pm $24B 10 yr note auction
8:30 am weekly jobless claims (-51K to 423K; con't claims 3.70 mil frm 3.733 mil last week)
April PPI (+0.5%; ex food and energy +0.2%)
April retail sales (+0.6%; ex auto sales +0.5%)
10:00 am Mar business inventories (+0.9%)
1:00 pm $16B 30 yr bond auction
8:30 am April CPI (+0.4%, ex food and energy +0.1%)
9:55 am U. of Michigan consumer sentiment index (69.5 frm 69.8)

The DJIA opened at 9:30 +14, mortgage prices -1/32 (.03 bp).

Technicals in the bond and mortgage markets remain overbought, possibly some pullback and consolidation here but the markets are quite bullish presently, as long as that continues not much retreat in the bond market. This week will likely be marked with increased market volatility.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Enjoy May Festivals....

Amazing May

Warm sunny weather, families filling the streets in downtown Greenville, flowers blooming everywhere you look—welcome to May in Upstate South Carolina!

The event season shifts into high gear this month with a packed schedule of outdoor events including music, movies and art festivals ... graciously supported by corporate sponsors such as Fidelity Investments, Greenville Hospital System, Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, SYNNEX Corporation, and TD Bank, among others, who help bring you the many annual events we enjoy throughout our region!
Following is a partial list of annual festivals, check our online calendar of events for more options. Get out and join in the fun!

Peace Center for the Performing Arts
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Peace Center, and with that comes some great renovations, but the show must go on. In May, The Chorale closes its 50th Anniversary Season with the monumental Beethoven "Missa Solemnis in D (Saturday, May 21, 2011 8:00 PM ). The Peace Center's anniversary season is full of many great performances and BROADWAY SHOWS check their calendar for more shows. 300 S. Main St. Box office: 1-800-888-7768.
"First In The South" Republican Presidential Debate
The Peace Center will host the SCGOP's First in the South Republican Presidential Debate on Thursday, May 5th at 9pm. The debate will be aired on Fox News. For more information, please call the SCGOP at 803-988-8440.

Greenville Drive
By May, the baseball season is in full swing at Fluor Field, the home base for this Class A affiliate for the Boston Red Sox. Come out and root for the home team; the farthest seat is just 13 rows from the field!

Upstate Spice of Life Show
Cooking demonstrations by local and celebrity chefs, hands-on entertaining workshops, and a tasting garden are just a few of the enticements at this interactive family cooking show, held at the Carolina First Center.
April 29-30.

Fidelity Investments Moonlight Movies
Take your lawn chairs and picnic baskets down to the Peace Center Amphitheatre on Wednesday nights in May to watch movie classics on the big screen. The al fresco fun starts at 8pm, Wednesdays in May.

The TD Saturday Market
Don’t miss the first Saturday Market of the season on May 7! Lettuces, strawberries, herbs, beets, radishes and more will herald the spring, along with a host of other fresh goodies. May 7 and every Saturday through October.

Ken-Ducky Duck Derby
If rubber duckies float your boat, be sure to enter your duck in this Reedy River derby. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Greenville, the race will plunge its ducky entrants over the Reedy River Falls, May 7 in Falls Park.
Artisphere: Arts - Culture - Life:
Artisphere was ranked a Top 20 arts festival in the nation by Greg Lawler’s Art Fair Sourcebook 2010!
This top-ranked arts festival of visual and performing arts showcases not only the talents of local artists, but spotlights artists from across the country. May 13-15, downtown Greenville.
Blue Ridge Fest
Held on the grounds of the Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative, the festival includes a Beach Night Cruise-In, a twist contest, and a 100-mile motorcycle ride for charity, May 13-14, Main Street, Pickens.
BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation
Thornblade Club, Carolina Country Club and Bright’s Creek Golf Course will host this year’s BMW Pro-Am, the only tournament on the Nationwide Tour where amateurs and celebrities are paired with Nationwide Tour professionals in a four-day better-ball competition.
May 19-22.

Greek Festival
Treat the family to a delicious dinner of Greek delicacies at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in downtown Greenville, then take in the dancing demonstrations and browse the wares for sale in the parking lot below the church. May 19-22. 406 N. Academy Street, Greenville.

Upstate Shakespeare Festival
See the Bard’s classics interpreted with modern flair on the outdoor Carolina First Amphitheater in Falls Park. The Upstate Shakespeare Festival Ensemble will perform The Taming of the Shrew on May 26-29, in Falls Park.
Greater Greenville Scottish Games
From bag pipers to Border Collies, you’ll find fun for everyone at the Scottish Games, which were graced by England’s Prince Edward in 2010. Events held in downtown Greenville and at Furman University.
May 27-28.

Greenville Hospital System Freedom Weekend Aloft
This high-flying festival stars a sky full of hot-air balloons. Co-stars include country music concerts, an art show, a car show, and high-flying pooches in the U.S. Disc Dog Freedom Weekend National competition.
May 27-30, at Heritage Park.

Greenville Hospital System USA Cycling Professional Championships
Greenville and its challenging terrain welcome pro cyclists during this national event—a great way to spend Memorial Day weekend.
May 28-30, in downtown Greenville.

As you’re planning for the fall, check our calendar for future events, including...

Euphoria – September 22-25
Celebrity chefs from across the U.S. team up with some of Greenville’s finest chefs at this food, wine and music festival held in downtown Greenville.

St. Francis Fall for Greenville - October 14-16
Sponsored by St. Francis Hospital, Fall for Greenville is a family-friendly street fair that focuses on food. October 14-16. Main Street, in downtown Greenville. 864-467-5741.

Open Studios - November 5-6
This weekend is your chance to take a behind-the-scenes peek at artists’ studios all around the Upstate. November 5-6, at various studios in and around Greenville. 864-467-3132.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Market Snapshot by Sigma Research - Wednesday's Report

Wednesday, April 27, 2011
A little weaker this morning in the rate markets; not really unexpected after the recent improvement in rates and ahead of an historic day with the chairman of the Fed holding a press conference for the first time ever. The FOMC meeting will conclude at 12:30 with its usual short policy statement, then at 2:15 Bernanke will hold a 45 minute press conference to answer questions. It is huge step for the Fed to open the chairman to the media, it also could be just another event that fails to meet expectations. If Bernanke doesn't allow follow up questions then he can waltz through the press conference without breaking a sweat and continue to let markets swing in the wind.

At 9:00 this morning the 10 yr note -12/32 at 3.35% after closing at 3.31% yesterday; mortgage prices off 6/32 (.18 bb), the stock indexes continue to improve as Q1 earnings generally beat estimates. At 9:30 the DJIA opened +11 then immediately retreated to unchanged, the 10 yr at 9:30 -12/32 and mortgages -6/32 (.18 bp).

At 8:30 March durable goods orders expected up 2.0% increased 2.5%, when the volatile transportation orders are ignored durables were up in line with estimates 1.3%; no reaction to the report as everything this morning is completely dependent on the FOMC policy statement and Bernanke's press conference.

Mortgage applications decreased 5.6% from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending April 22. There was no adjustment made for Good Friday. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 5.6% on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. The Refinance Index decreased 0.6% from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 13.6% to its lowest level since February 25, 2011, driven by a 26.6% decrease in government purchase applications. The four week moving average for the seasonally adjusted Market Index is down 2.4%. The four week moving average is down 0.8% for the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index, while this average is down 3.2% for the Refinance Index. The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 61.6% of total applications from 58.5% the previous week. This is the highest refinance share of the month. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity remained unchanged from the previous week at 6.5% of total applications. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 4.80% from 4.83%, with points decreasing to 1.01 from 1.06 (including the origination fee) for 80% loans. The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 4.03% from 4.07%, with points decreasing to 0.96 from 1.02 (including the origination fee) for 80% loans.

At 11:30 this morning Treasury will auction $35B of 5 yr notes; normally at 1:00 but with the FOMC policy statement at 12:30 Treasury moved the auction to 11:30. Yesterday the 2 yr note auction wasn't as good as we would have liked but until the press conference is done this afternoon nothing is likely to move traders and investors. Another soft auction will be dealt with after the press conference is debated. As noted above, if no follow up questions are allowed the conference will be seen as just another sound bite.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Market Snapshot by Sigma Research - Tuesday's Report

Tuesday, April 26, 2011
US rate markets slightly better this morning but not much; the early trade in stock indexes were pointing to a better open on UBS earnings. The Fed begins its FOMC meeting today concluding tomorrow with the short policy statement at 12:30 then Bernanke's awaited press conference at 2:15.

At 9:00 the Case/Shiller Feb home price index; on the 20 city measurement prices fell 3.3% yr/yr and on the 10 city metro prices fell 2.6% yr/yr. No reaction to the data as usual, there isn't any improvement in the housing markets with prices continuing to fall and consumers seeing little compelling reason to buy or sell. Housing was the prime driver for the US economy since WW II until four years ago, now there seems to be little interest from Washington to directly address the issue.

At 9:30 the DJIA opened +16, the 10 yr note +4/32 and mortgage prices at 9:30 +.12 bp.

At 10:00 April consumer confidence from the Conference Board, expected at 64.4 frm 63.4 in March, was better at 65.4 frm March revision up to 63.8 frm 63.4. The present situation measurement at 39.6 frm 37.5 the highest since Nov 2008; 12 month expectations 82.6 frm 81.3 and the 1 yr inflation outlook index to 6.3 frm 6.7. Overall a better consumer outlook boosted equity indexes a little but the bond market had little initial reaction.

The only significant focus point now is on tomorrow's FOMC statement and what Bernanke will say at his press conference in answering what we hope will be the tough questions. The general conclusion now is that the Fed will complete its QE 2 $600B treasury purchases by the end of June. What comes next is what markets are seeking; most bond market participants and stock market enthusiasts are expecting Bernanke will keep interest rates low for at least the rest of the year and possibly longer. Bernanke and some other Fed officials have repeatedly defined the economy as in "modest recovery" and still fragile. As long as the Fed (Bernanke) see it that way the Fed will do whatever is necessary to keep rates low. As long as that outlook holds stock markets will continue to improve, low rates don't have much positive impact on consumers (maybe lower car loans), mortgage rates are low but that isn't motivating anyone. All about driving the dollar lower and pushing investments into equity markets.

Thursday the first look at Q1 GDP is expected at 1.5% to 2.3% growth; a lot weaker than was thought just six weeks ago. Increasing numbers of analysts are currently lowering growth expectations for Q2. The Fed isn't about to yank its support with the economic outlook not as rosy as most were expecting a short time ago. Two weeks ago markets were all a buzz fearing inflation as commodity prices increase, today focus has changed to how much more help the Fed will provide. Unlikely we will have another QE 3 but the Fed has other ways to pump money into the bond markets; it may decide to reinvest the interest and principal payments from its bond holdings in treasuries.

The bond market isn't expecting US rates will increase when the Fed ends QE 2 at the end of June. Since last Nov the Fed has purchased about $550B of treasuries while Treasury has issued $825B of notes and bonds, when the Fed ends its QE as is generally expected traders apparently believe markets will step up and fill the short-fall.

Treasury auction $35B of 2 yr notes at 1:00 this afternoon, expectations are for good bidding.

Technically the bond and mortgage markets remain bullish; that said we will continue to stand down from buying treasuries at least until we hear from Bernanke tomorrow.

This Month In Real Estate (US) April 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

How to Survive a Manic Monday - Posted by Downtown Greenville

How to Survive a Manic Monday: GVL Drive@Fluor Field, 7PM; Teen Advisory Board@Main Library, 4:30PM; Trivial Pursuit@O-CHA Tea, 6PM; Open Mic Nite@Smiley’s(6:30PM) & The Channel(7PM); Monday Nite Revival@Horizon Records, 8PM; No Expectations Comedy Open Mic@Coffee Underground, 8PM; Name That Tune Trivia@City Tavern, 8:30PM; The Sawyer Family & Viva Le Vox@The Handlebar, 9PM; Trivia@Wild Wing. Have Fun, Be Safe!

Market Snapshot by Sigma Research - Monday's Report

Monday, April 25, 2011
Treasuries and mortgage markets opened better this morning in light trading ahead of this week's Treasury auctions and the FOMC meeting on Wednesday. Equity market pre-open trade were up a little, about unchanged from fair value pointing to a flat open. Crude oil continues to increase, up $1.00 at $113.30 at 9:00 am, gold also higher again today (+$10.00 at 9:00 am).

At 9:30 the DJIA opened -17, 10 yr note +2/32 and mortgage prices +4/32 (.12 bp).

At 10:00 the only data point today, March new home sales expected up 10.7%, increased 11.1% to 300K annualized and up from 270K in Feb frm 250K originally reported. Better but not much; the median sales price $213,800.00% down 4.9% frm Mar 2010, based on sales there is a 7.3 month supply down from 8.2 months in Feb.

The major focus this week is the FOMC meeting on Wednesday. Always a key focus for the financial markets, this week even more so as for the first time in history the Fed chief will hold a 45 minute press conference after the meeting. Normally the FOMC releases a short policy statement after the meeting at 2:15 pm; this meeting will conclude with the statement at 12:30 then at 2:15 Bernanke will hold his news conference allowing reporters to ask questions. The Fed is trying to increase certainty and add stability in markets removing much of the speculation about what the Fed really means. Unlikely that his press conference will add more clarity, but at least he will try.

Treasury will auction $99B of 2's, 5's and 7 yr notes Tuesday through Thursday, selling the 5 yr note sandwiched between the Fed's policy statement at 12:30 and Bernanke's press conference at 2:15 on Wednesday. Economic data has new home sales today (see above), weekly claims on Thursday along with the first look at Q1 GDP also on Thursday. This week also has a huge number of Q1 earnings reports that will set the tone for the equity markets. So far earnings overall have generally beaten Street estimates. Technically the bond and mortgage markets are looking good as inflation worries fade and the dollar declining. We don't expect much change in mortgage prices until Wednesday's FOMC meeting.

This Week's Economic Calendar:
9:00 am Case/Shiller Feb home price index (-3.2% 20 city)
10:00 am April consumer confidence index (64.4 frm 63.4 in March)
1:00 pm $35b 2 yr note auction
7:00 am weekly MBA mortgage applications
8:30 AM March durable goods orders (+1.8%, ex transportation +1.2%)
12:30 pm FOMC policy statement
1:00 pm $35B 5 yr note auction
2:15 pm Bernanke press conference
8:30 am Q1 advance GDP report (+1.7%)
weekly jobless claims (-13K to 390K, continuing claims 3.69 mil frm 3.695 mil)
10:00 am NAR pending home sales for Mar (+1.7%)
1:00 pm $29B 7 yr note auction
8:30 am March personal income and spending (income +0.4%, spending +0.5%)
Q1 employment cost index (+0.5%, Q4 +0.4%)
9:45 am Apr Chicago purchasing mgrs index (68.0 frm 70.6 in Mar)
9:55 am U. of Michigan consumer sentiment index (69.6 unch frm mid-month)

Much of the world markets are closed today, likely will influence trade in US markets today. The bond and mortgage markets sitting relatively unchanged so far this morning. Technically the bond and mortgage markets slightly bullish but any selling could change the technicals quickly. Debate continues about the value of treasuries and the present rates. Recent comments from Bill Gross at PIMCO that returns at present rates are not worth investing, while most dealers continue to prime the pump that bonds are a good investment. Generally we do not expect the bellwether 10 yr note to move above 4.00% this year, which is the general consensus. Gross's criticism of present low rates, and his comment recently that PIMCO was at one point short US rate markets upset many that said it was anti-American. “I could join the dealers and say the 10-year’s not going to go to 4 percent, so what am I left with?” Gross said.......“I’m left with an under-yielding, less-than-inflation security. I have better choices. As a firm we’re not going to put up with it.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Special Dish Trip Edition: Greenville, SC

Special Dish Trip Edition: Greenville, SC
By: Mary Bigham, Food Writer

2011 Hello, Southwest fans! As you already know, the Dish Trip team travels only in the name of food, and our latest Dish Trip took us to Upstate country in South Carolina.

This special trip to Greenville-Spartanburg was to celebrate Southwest Airlines' service to their 70th destination, and part of the festivities included a progressive dinner where we got to fill up on the best eats in town. Here is our latest video of all the delicious action.

Stop #1: Nantucket Seafood Grill and Marriott Courtyard Greenville
40 West Broad Street Greenville, SC (864) 546-3535
50 West Broad Street, Greenville - (864) 451-5700

Our first stop was for crab cakes and hush puppies paired with Nantucket Summer Cocktails at Nantucket Seafood Grill. This restaurant represents the second addition to the thriving downtown business district by Rick Erwin — a Greenville native — and I was lucky to have joined their CFO for some savory seafood goodness!

The Company Crabcakes were served with a mustard aoili and were filled with so much colossal lump crab meat that I joked that there was no cake, just crab. Amazing! The house-made hush puppies had blue crab, bell pepper, and corn, and were served with a tasty tartar sauce. This is the spot for Greenville’s freshest seafood, served up in a warm, modern atmosphere. The weather was perfect (despite the wind) to enjoy these delicious bites outdoors in the gorgeous green space at the Courtyard Marriott next door.

Company Crab Cakes and Hush Puppies with Nantucket Summer Ale from Nantucket Seafood Grill

The restaurant windows overlook the Courtyard Marriott green space and the patio. This was a perfect spot to sit and sip on a Nantucket Summer Cocktail alongside the peaceful waterfall wall and it felt like an instant vacation. How much fun to have a little slice of paradise to enjoy while looking out at the hustle and bustle of downtown Greenville! (I also heard that this space is used for an ice rink during winter months. Fun!).

The gorgeous green space at the Courtyard Marriott in Downtown Greenville

Stop #2 Larkin’s on the River
318 South Main Street, Greenville, SC (864) 467-9777

Our second stop for the evening was Larkin’s on the River. I love me some southern food and was so excited to have some good ole shrimp and grits in such a cool atmosphere, along the river. The Larkin’s shrimp and stone ground grits were served in a martini glass with a rich cheese sauce, topped with sautéed jumbo shrimp, peppers, and a sprinkle of more cheese on top paired with a Ketel One Oranje martini. Larkin’s is known for their steak, so I was thrilled to try some of their Tenderloin bites—incredibly tender slices of beef tenderloin served with chipotle aioli and pita chips paired with a Lewellen Syrah. Both dishes and drink pairings are worth a trip to Greenville just for a bite, trust me. (You know I’d actually do that, right?).

Shrimp and Grits paired with a Ketel One Oranje Cocktail from Larkin's on the River

Downtown Greenville is like a secret city built on top of a gorgeous park overflowing with natural waterfalls and grassy areas. Picture perfect couples, families, and singles use the numerous bridges of the city to hop from hot spot to hot spot and to dine at the adorable restaurants downtown. We walked our way between each restaurant and loved discovering the nooks and crannies of the city.

Beautiful Downtown Greenville

Stop #3: The Lazy Goat
170 River Place, Greenville, SC (864) 679-5299

Our third stop was The Lazy Goat, known for a “made from scratch” approach from the zahtar on the table to the house-made pasta. The concept at this restaurant is to take your time, savor your food, share your stories, and escape in the flavors of the Mediterranean. And that, we did!

Moroccan Lamb and Fried Goat Cheese with Lazy Goat White Sangria

I sat with Chef de Cuisine Vicky Moore, who was cute as a button and a self-described “food geek” who loves to explore the culinary cultures of different areas of the world. We started with fried goat cheese bites that were dusted with pistachio and drizzled with honey. One bite of one of those little morsels was all that this girl needed to sit back and embrace the slow food atmosphere. But I had to get a taste of the succulent Moroccan lamb that was braised and served with warm pita, cucumber yogurt, and plantain chips. Of course, I put it all together in one huge, amazing bite and, yes, I needed a napkin. I was so distracted by the colorful tastes of the Mediterranean that I wasn’t paying attention to the mess I was making. But that’s what good food makes you do, right? Flavorful dishes, a breathtaking view of the river, and a Lazy Goat signature sangria to wash it all down with ... check, check, and check!

Stop #4: The Nose Dive
116 South Main Street Greenville, SC (864) 373-7300

Our fourth stop was The Nose Dive, a hip, fun, and bustling downtown spot. The Nose Dive is a casual GastroPub featuring an eclectic menu of comfort food and pub fare created by Chef de Cuisine, Joey Pearson. Their signature dishes are favorites like fish and chips, traditional lobster rolls and—one of my favorite pub foods—the Scotch egg, which I was happy to get a taste of.

A Scotch Egg from The Nose Dive

This hearty snack food is a hard-boiled egg that is wrapped with house-made sausage, covered in Panko bread crumbs, and then deep fried to golden brown perfection. It was served with roasted red pepper puree and a celery remoulade. When you cut the Scotch Egg, it creates a really cool layering effect that looks like a food rainbow on your plate. And, who doesn’t like a rainbow? Joey was a good sport to hang with me, and I loved his choice to pair this treat with local Thomas Creek Beers. It was a match made in, well, Greenville heaven.

Stop #5: Barley’s Tap Room
25 West Washington Street Greenville, SC (864) 232-3706

Our last stop was Barley’s Tap Room which has been the regular recipient of local "Best of..." awards—best poolroom, best pizza, best beer list, best bar, and best place to hang out. We were too full from our food tour of Greenville to try their famous fresh sourdough pizza, but we did enjoy their pool hall and cold beer on tap.

Of course, as good guests, we came bearing Philly food gifts for our new friends in South Carolina. Our friends at Victory Brewing Company shared a special brew presented exclusively for Southwest Airlines, called 737 Lager, which paired perfectly with the Victory Beer Truffles from Eclat Chocolates (voted to have the World's greatest caramels). The Dish Trip team even brought cake pops in Southwest colors from Cakes and Candies by Maryellen for everyone to enjoy.

Victory Beer Truffles from Eclat Chocolate (served with the Victory 737 Lager, exclusively for Southwest Airlines)

We talked, we mingled, we drank, and we did a toast to celebrate Southwest’s service to Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport. A few lucky fans even won roundtrip tickets on Southwest, and we called it a delicious night!

The next morning the Dish Trip team headed over to the airport bright and early to send off the first flights with breakfast and Southwest’s signature coffee blend called Lift. We loved watching a group of locals head to Chicago Midway on a first flight for a day trip just to experience some authentic Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Those are my kind of people! (Many of them reported back to a Southwest Rep that they spent a lot more on pizza and beer than their airfare on Southwest!)

Southwest Signature Lift Coffee

Special thanks to Greenville HD for being part of this adventure and for additional footage. Check out their work at

Head over to for more information! As always, follow us on Twitter @dishtrip or friend us on Facebook for more dining details in a city near you. Thanks for reading and watching—we’ll see you on the next Dish Trip!

Nutty stuff, Customers

Market Snapshot by Sigma Research - Wednesday's Report

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
So much for outlook that markets would likely be quiet this week; after markets closed yesterday more earnings were reported and were better than expected for Intel and Intel's guidance that the outlook is for better earnings going forward. Intel said yesterday revenue may top analysts’ estimates in the second quarter. United Technologies also reported better than expected earnings and forward guidance. Recent reported Q1 earnings had been generally disappointing; a number of estimates for Q1 growth have been lowered. The stock market looked vulnerable until late yesterday. This morning in pre-market trading at 8:30 the DJIA futures +147 and increasing. The bond and mortgage markets are weaker this morning on the better equity market outlook today. At 8:30 the 10 yr note off 7/32 and mortgage prices off 7/32 (.22 bp).

Earlier this morning the weekly MBA mortgage applications. Mortgage applications increased 5.3% from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending April 15, 2011. The Refinance Index increased 2.7% from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 10.0% to its highest level since December 3, 2010, driven largely by a 17.6% increase in Government purchase applications. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 10.9% compared with the previous week and was 11.4% lower than the same week one year ago. The four week moving average for the seasonally adjusted Market Index is down 2.9%. The four week moving average is up 2.5% for the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index, while this average is down 5.7% for the Refinance Index. The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 58.5% of total applications from 60.3% the previous week. This is the lowest refinance share since May 7, 2010. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 6.5% from 5.9% of total applications from the previous week. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 4.83% from 4.98%, with points increasing to 1.07 from 0.93 (including the origination fee) for 80% loans. The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 4.07% from 4.17%, with points decreasing to 1.02 from 1.22 (including the origination fee) for 80% loans.

At 9:30 the DJIA opened +160, 10 yr improved to -4/32 and mortgage prices off just 2/32 (.06 bp) after being down 7/32 (.22 bp) at 9:00. Lenders that priced at 9:15 or earlier likely priced at the low, since then prices have improved somewhat.

At 10:00, the only economic data today; Mar existing home sales were expected to have increased 2.5%, sales increased 3.7% to 5.10 mil, estimates were for 5.0 mil. Based on sales there is an 8.4 month supply down from 8.5 months in Feb. The median sales price $159,600.00 down 5.9% frm March last year. There was no market reaction to the report as it is generally in line with estimates and still very weak.

The best open for the stock market in weeks on the strong earnings on tech stocks and forward guidance better than analysts had expected. The economic outlook remains uncertain; recently there have been a number of estimates lowering the growth for Q! that we will get the first look at next Thursday. The IMF went from +2.0% to +1.5% while private estimates also lower but from better levels. Technically the rate markets are slightly bullish for the very near term but the wider perspective both technically and fundamentally remains bearish for interest rates. While the outlook isn't favorable for the bond market, there is little reason currently to expect rates to increase substantially.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Market Snapshot by Sigma Research - Tuesday's Report

Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Treasuries and mortgage markets began flat today after yesterday's nice improvements. Markets still reacting to yesterday's announcement from S&P that it lowered US debt from stable to negative; not a down grade in the debt rating but a signal that unless our politicians do something real in reducing debt spending and increase taxes soon the debt rating may be lowered. While we believe it highly unlikely US debt ratings will actually be lowered, it was nevertheless a shot across the bow to Washington that time is running out on the spending binges that have been the norm for the last eight years.

S&P and the other rating agencies took serious and deserved heat for continuing to rate the junk mortgages created in 2002 to 2007 as AAA. Now it appears the rating agency isn't going to make the same mistake. After watching Washington fumble around for the last year and unwilling to make the hard choices, S&P's action yesterday may have pushed politicians to address the US instead of focusing on their own political careers.

Yesterday's market reactions were just the opposite of what conventional wisdom would expect after the S&P announcement; stocks should have rallied and interest rate markets should have spiked higher, the dollar should have declined. None of that occurred; stocks were slammed on weaker earnings and money didn't leave the bond market. Where would investors go with their wallets? Gold, it did increase to a new record; to the stock market that most now believe is overdone with economic outlooks being revised lower; there is nowhere to go except stay put in treasuries. By mid-morning yesterday the initial selling seen in bonds and improvements in equity indexes, investors and traders went back to other economic fundamentals; stocks fell and the rate markets improved while the US dollar rallied nicely against the Euro currency.

Mary Miller, undersecretary of Treasury made one of the most curious comments about S&P's announcement, saying S&P "underestimates" US political leadership. Where has she been for the past 10 yrs? Our politicians have been spending and growing the government for years with little interest in fiscal responsibility. The Fed under Greenspan and now under Bernanke has been telling Congressional committees for years to get with fiscal discipline in their various testimonies. Congress yawned and kept right on greasing the pig; hopefully S&P's action will be taken more seriously than the Federal Reserve.

March housing starts and permits out at 8:30, starts lower than expectations, while permits better. March starts were expected to have increased 7.8%, as reported starts up were up 7.2%; Feb starts however were revised higher, to 512K units from 479K and -18.5% frm 22.5%. Permits up 11.2% against estimates of +3.9%; 594K from 534K in Feb. There was no market reaction to the data; no one believes housing is going to rebound this year.

Yesterday we reported that PIMCO had established a short position on US treasuries, that they did, but this morning after being criticized for being anti-American PIMCO has established a long position in the bond market. The fund had to have taken a loss on shorting, PIMCO swings a heavy hammer but it too at times gets it wrong.

The US stock market at 9:30 opened 31 points on the DJIA, mortgage prices unchanged and treasuries also unchanged.

Now that the S&P action has been somewhat digested, there isn't much scheduled through the rest of the week. Last night Passover began and Friday is Good Friday; trading volume should decrease through the rest of the week. Lower volume can at times juice up volatility, unless there is unexpected news markets will have little to chew on through the rest of the week. That said, no one was expecting the S&P news.

Looking at the economic outlook, it has generally been revised lower by now after comments and forecasts from the IMF, the NFIB and various economists and analysts. As coming data reflects a slowing the bond and mortgage markets should hold lower rates. A moving target as we have said previously. This is earnings season, so far not as strong as thought, but there is a lot to go.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Market Snapshot by Sigma Research - Monday's Report

Where SC shops for mortgages!
Monday, April 18, 2011
Treasuries and mortgage markets opened better this morning on weaker stock indexes pointing to a weak open at 9:30. Trading this week will be on low volume with Passover and Holy Week. Already this morning there has been an increase in volatility; the 10 yr note traded +10/32 at 9:00 then fell to -5/32 and immediately bounced back to unchanged; mortgage prices at 8:59 this morning +5/32, at 9:07 -1/32, at 9:15 -4/32 (.12 bp). This week will likely be somewhat volatile but by the end of the week not much changed; many investors and traders will be leaving by mid-week.

S&P roiled markets early this morning; saying it has downgraded US debt to negative. The DJIA opened -170 points at 9:30, the bond and mortgage markets were quite volatile as investors were somewhat shocked on the announcement. Treasuries erased an earlier advance, the dollar pared gains versus the euro and gold rallied. S&P affirmed reduced the long-term U.S. debt rating to negative from stable, while affirming its AAA long-term and A-1+ short-term sovereign credit ratings. S&P said that more than two years after the beginning of the recent crisis, U.S. policymakers have not agreed on a strategy to reverse recent fiscal deterioration or address longer-term fiscal pressures. While a shock, it shouldn't have been with our politicians in Washington twinking around with budget cuts that were nothing; they patted themselves on their collective backs and announced a $38B cut in spending, but the actual real cut amounted to just $318 mil. All of the cuts were just not funding what had been approved previously. As long as our "leaders" are unwilling to make serious steps to cut spending and increase revenues (taxes) the US debt rating will continue to be down-graded, and US interest rates will increase.

Listening and watching the reaction from guests on CNBC one would think markets were slapped in the face with the down-grade and are taking offense. We and others have warned for over two years that US debt ratings were going to be lowered. Somehow most in the US believe the US is immune to debt ratings declines; time to wake up folks, the US if corporate accounting were to be applied, is bankrupt. 50% of all Americans pay no federal income tax while politicians don't have the stones to do what everyone knows has to be done. We do not have leaders, we have politicians that above all want to keep their jobs.

This week has little data except for the housing sector; March starts and permits, March existing home sales as well as this morning's NAHB housing market index and Thursday's FHFA housing price index. The only non-housing data comes on Thursday with weekly jobless claims and the April Philadelphia Fed business index. The markets will close early on Thursday and be closed Friday for Good Friday.

This Week's Economic Calendar:
10:00 am April NAHB housing market index (17 was expected, as reported 16)
8:30 am March housing starts and permits (starts +7.8%; permits +3.9%)
7:00 am MBA weekly mortgage applications
10:00 am March existing home sales (+2.5%)
8:30 am weekly jobless claims (-22K back to 390K; con't claims 3.650 mil frm 3.680 mil)
10:00 am April Philadelphia Fed business index (32.9 frm 43.4 in March)
Mar leading economic indicators (+0.2%)
FHFA Feb housing price index (N/A)
Markets closed

Fed speak; at 12:30 Dallas Fed's Fisher speaking on the economic outlook. Likely he will continue the Fed's outlook, moderate growth with no inflation concerns but that the Fed will continue to monitor events closely. The Fed will complete the $600B QE 2 by the end of June. His comments won't likely present anything new.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fed penalizes 10 banks on mortgage practices By Steve Goldstein

Fed penalizes 10 banks on mortgage practices By Steve Goldstein
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The Federal Reserve said it's taken enforcement action against 10 banks over "a pattern of misconduct and negligence related to deficient practices in residential mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure processing. These deficiencies represent significant and pervasive compliance failures and unsafe and unsound practices at these institutions."
The banks are:
Wells Fargo (WFC 30.83, -0.58, -1.83%) .
Bank of America (BAC 13.27, -0.20, -1.51%) ,
Citigroup (C 4.49, -0.07, -1.43%) ,
Ally Financial, HSBC North America unit of HSBC Holdings (HBC 53.62, +0.13, +0.24%)
J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM 46.27, -0.37, -0.79%)
MetLife (MET 44.16, -0.61, -1.35%)
PNC Financial Services PNC 62.71, -0.42, -0.67%) ,
SunTrust Banks (STI 29.15, -0.45, -1.52%) ,
U.S. Bancorp (USB 25.96, -0.40, -1.52%)

In addition to the actions against the banking organizations, the Federal Reserve on Wednesday announced formal enforcement actions against Lender Processing Services, Inc. (LPS), a domestic provider of default-management services and other services related to foreclosures, and against MERSCORP, Inc., which provides services related to tracking and registering residential mortgage ownership and servicing, acts as mortgagee of record on behalf of lenders and servicers, and initiates foreclosure actions

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

This Month In Real Estate (US) April 2011

1 of the 18 towns that are perfecting the art - Men's Journal

1 of the 18 towns that are perfecting the art
of living well — places where conservation
is more important than development,
bike makers and breweries and
farmers markets thrive, and Whole
Foods is considered a big-box store.

Booming Greenville has a lot to beat its
chest about. The North American home of
BMW and Michelin, it boasts a revitalized,
pedestrian-friendly old downtown with a
cool throwback ballpark, all linked by free
trolley service; a zealous cycling community;
and a group called Upstate Forever that
keeps a watchdog’s eye on open space and
clean waterways. But the most telling recent
development is the NEXT Innovation Center,
where tech start-ups, entrepreneurs, and
even angel investors rent and share space,
coffee, and brainpower. The creative vibe
here is so strong that walls are covered
with writable surfaces so eurekas can get
scribbled down anywhere, anytime.