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.

Published in a special section of The Daily Record in Baltimore, Maryland (Great Escapes Beach Destinations)

Good morning,

Published in a special section of The Daily Record in Baltimore, Maryland (Great Escapes Beach Destinations) Greenville is featured on the inside back cover as an alternative to beach destinations. This article should be well read and is great PR for Greenville in one of our new non-stop Southwest Airlines destinations.
Click here to access the Greenville CVB's article archive and link to The Daily Record
(Bookmark our CVB article archive page for future reference, we are expecting several new articles in the coming months!)
If you were already at work at 8am this morning, you may have missed our mention on the TODAY show! We understand from our partners at SCPRT that Al Roker mentioned Greenville's current weather conditions as reported by WYFF, and showed our skyline! Every 5 seconds of national TV exposure helps our national awareness!
Have a successful day and thank you

Market Snapshot by Sigma Research - Tuesday's Report

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Treasuries rallying this morning on lower equity market trade and another slight run to safety on news that Japan has elevated the condition level on its nuke sites from a 5 to a 7, the same level as Chernobyl in 1986. Officials however are saying the level of radiation leaks is much lower than Chernobyl, still an increase to the highest level for nuke accidents. Also supporting rate markets; in the UK inflation levels slipped a little as is also the case on recent data from Mexico. In Germany investor confidence slid on ECB rate increase last week; German inflation unexpectedly accelerated to 2.3% last month after oil prices surged to more than $110 a barrel. (crude has declined $7.00 in the last 24 hours)

More not so good news for the economic outlook this morning. The National Federation of Independent Business index fell. "It looks like everyone became more pessimistic in March, consumers (The university of Michigan Confidence Index took a dive, tenth largest monthly decline in survey history) and business owners. The Index of Small Business Optimism gave up 2.6 points in March, falling to 91.9, definitely a recession-level reading if history is any guide.".... "The bad news for the Fed (although not for the business owners who need to improve their bottom lines after the recession laid waste to their profits) is that price pressures continue to mount. The decline in the Index was driven by weaker expectations for real sales gains and business conditions and a marked deterioration in profit trends. Job creation plans weakened but remained in positive territory and plans to make capital outlays posted another gain (although reports of actual outlays over the past 6 months were unchanged). Basically, the Index and its components are at recession levels from an historical perspective."

The Feb international trade deficit was about in line; -$45.76B. March import prices increased 2.7%, higher than 2.2% expected; export prices +1.5% higher than +0.8% expected. Food prices up 4.2% the largest increase since July 1994; yr/yr import prices up 9.7%. Yr/yr on export price +9.7%.

The DJIA opened -88, at 9:30 the 10 yr +19/32 at 3.52% -6 bp and mortgages +12/32 (.27 bp). Equity markets were not happy over the Alcoa earnings reported at 4:00 yesterday, the beginning of earnings season. Cisco also not helping equities with news of the company about to cut jobs.

The reactions to weaker earnings, a decline in small business confidence, Japan increasing the nuke emergency level from 5 to the highest 7 level, a sizeable decline in oil prices in the last 24 hours (about $7.00), and lower inflation stats from the UK have momentarily shaken markets. Not a big deal in the larger perspective but enough to pressure stocks for the moment and push interest rates slightly lower this morning.

At 1:00 Treasury will auction $32B of 3 yr notes. At 2:00 this afternoon Treasury will report the March balance, expected a deficit of $189B.

A nice start to the day but we are not swayed, the bond and mortgage markets if we look at it from the technicals are both near term oversold as we noted yesterday; the equity markets equally overbought. Both markets overdue for consolidation. The larger picture remains optimistic fore economic recovery, inflation concerns haven't evaporated as most countries are on a path of rate hikes. Then the much wider perspective; the US budget deficit that will play a huge role in the markets starting again tomorrow after Obama's speech. None of the driving issues justify optimism in the bond markets.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What is a “Zestimate” anyway??

What is a “Zestimate” anyway??

Mar 30, 2011 06:13 pm | INFRASYN
After seeing a property my client turns to me and says, “That’s what they want, but this is the value of the property.” “According to who?”, I asked. “According to Zillow”, said my client. That is a bold and potentially presumptuous statement to make for an online company, so I decided to look into this “zestimate" a little further.

On the Zillow website there is a little question mark noting their disclaimer. Here is a part of the disclaimer but I encourage you to read it in its entirety, for yourself, on their site.

“The Zestimate (rhymes with estimate) home valuation is Zillow's estimated market value, computed using a proprietary formula. It is not an appraisal. It is a starting point in determining a home's value. The Zestimate is pulled from data. However, your real estate agent or appraiser should physically inspect the home and take special features, location, and market conditions into account.”

For the entire article go to: is a GREAT marketing tool that many Realtors and public use, but it is a also a feeder site and many of the “listed” properties are not updated and may no longer even be available.

The moral of this story……ALWAYS, ALWAYS check with your local agent when value is the question as “market conditions” play a critical role in your local market and prices are determined by YOUR local market, not the Real Estate market as a whole.

read more

Did you hear that...???...
Mar 28, 2011 05:54 pm | INFRASYN
I know you've heard the R.I.P news about the housing market. Well... this team is NOT LISTENING! We are however we advising our listing clients to sell now if they plan to and don't wait.. Call us today if you need advice. We are always here to help! The market is turning but our buyer agents are working feverishly to make this market work! We are creatively trying to help all of our clients find what they want and at a great price.

We as a team had our BEST YEAR EVER last year selling over 20 Million for 2010 alone and have a good start on this year so far! With 24 homes already closed and 21 pending, we are NOT LISTENING!

Client Testimonials:
Very responsive team, very helpful for out-of-state buyers! Mr. & Mrs. Bartunek

Working with Connie and her girls was great. Everyone bent over backwards to cover all of our needs. We were very pleased. Mr. & Mrs. Bohl

read more

28 Calmar Ct. Brick Home, Gated Community near Green Valley Golf Greenville, SC 29617
Mar 28, 2011 02:20 pm | INFRASYN
This Amazing Custom Built Brick home resides in a Gated Community with great activities and amenities year round. It is only minutes to the semi private, Green Valley Country Club. Located near Furman University, Swamp Rabbit Trail, the Blue Ridge Mountains yet only 10 minutes to Downtown Greenville.

The sophisticated open floor plan welcomes you with gleaming hardwoods, an extra wide foyer with decorative columns enhancing the beautiful open Formal dining room. You an move around with ease between the Interactive Great room and Dream kitchen. The focal point of the Great Room is the Fire Place and access a private screen porch. The kitchen makes cooking a delight with granite counter tops, with a raised counter and bar stools,. It has several hanging lights adding warmth to the beautiful crafted cabinets. Master and split bedroom plan offers privacy.

The Master Suite features cathedral ceiling, large windows and private access to screened porch. Never worry about closet space in this home, there's a 11' double door walk-in closet, plus two single door width closets. The Master Bath retreat has his and her vanities, jetted tub and double shower.

There is Beautiful tile in all baths. A walk-up Bonus Room offers possibilities as an office, play, guest room or home theater and more storage in the eaves. The laundry room is in a room of its own with Built-in cabinetry and is right off the garage entry. The perfect home for families, empty nesters, retirees and even professors.

Come inside, don't drive by! You will miss the custom beauty of this home!

read more

Market Snapshot by Sigma Research - Thursday's Report

Where SC shops for mortgages!
Thursday, April 07, 2011
Treasuries and mortgages started a little weaker this morning; at 8:00 the 10 yr -5/32 and mortgages -2/32 (.06 bp). By 9:00 the 10 moved back to unchanged and mortgages +1/32 (.03 bp) frm yesterday's close. US stock indexes in pre-market trading were unchanged at 9:00. At 9:30 the DJIA opened -9, 10 yr note +1/32 3.55% unch, mortgage prices
+2/32 on 30s, +3/32 on 15s.

Weekly jobless claims at 8:30 were down 10K to 382K after another slight upward revision last week from 388K to 392K, the second week in a row claims have been revised a little higher from original reports. Continuing claims edged lower, to 3.72 mil from 3.73 mil last week.

A lot of media focus on the budget talks in Washington and to keep everyone on edge hyping the possibility of a government shutdown that is very unlikely. The Pres and Congressional leaders are close to an agreement to avoid even a few days of closings. This budget debate only deals with the budget through the end of this fiscal year (Sept); it is a prelim to the big debate (fight) over the 2012 budget. Politicians talk the talk about getting the budget deficit under control but for many years have not had the guts to walk the walk. Even some economists are out there saying the budget isn't a priority, zombies walking in a death gaze.

March chain store sales were better than expected. Not much, but better overall. Markets expected it and the various reports have done little to motivate investors.

Later this morning Treasury will announce the details for next week's auctions; 3 yr and 10 yr notes and 30 yr bond should total $66B down from $72B on last months same auctions.

The European Central Bank did what was widely expected and telegraphed by Jean Claude Trichet the head man at the ECB; it increased its base rate to 1.25% from 1.00%, the first rate increase in three years. Trichet said the increase was not the beginning of a series of increases, but most economists believe it is and that the rate will be at 1.75% by the end of the year. German economic growth and increasing signs of inflation in Europe is setting up more rate hikes justifying that rationale. Today’s ECB rate increase is the first since July 2008 and also the first time in 40 years that Europe’s benchmark has risen before the U.S. equivalent. Our Fed is reluctant to move rates on the belief that inflation isn't a problem and that the economy is still weaker than what the Fed wants to see.

The Bank of England also met today but left its base rate unchanged their policy makers judged the need to aid the recovery took precedence over the fastest inflation in more than two years. England's rate is 0.5% and has been at that level for 26 months. UK service sector saw improvement last month as announced Tuesday but manufacturing stalled in Feb. The UK struggling with inflation increase while consumer spending is being pressured by higher prices. The British Chamber of Commerce this week said first- quarter growth was probably between 0.6% and 0.7%. It said this is weaker than expected and adds to the argument that the Bank of England should delay raising its key interest rate.

Yesterday the 10 yr note broke its near term minor support at 3.50% to close at 3.55%. The 10 is now trading above its 20 and 40 day MAs on the yield chart. Mortgage markets also seeing breaks on its charts, slightly below the 20 and 40 day MAs on the price charts.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Market Snapshot by Sigma Research - Friday's Report

Friday, April 01, 2011
March employment report was better than expectations; non-farm jobs were expected to have increased 195K to 200K, as reported jobs increased 216K the biggest monthly increase since May 2010. Non-farm private jobs also better, up 203K, the unemployment rate fell to 8.8% from 8.9% in Feb as more potential workers dropped out of looking for a job; if discouraged workers are added in the unemployment rate is about 15.5%. Average hourly earnings were unchanged in March.

Treasuries and mortgages were already lower in price prior to the 8:30 employment report, down 7/32 (.22 bp) for mortgages; after the report mortgage prices ticked a little lower to -11/32 (.34 bp) at 8:45 with the 10 yr note at 3.51% slightly higher (+4 bp) and once again testing the psychological 3.50% level that held earlier this week. Although employment was better than thought it wasn't that much better than what markets were expecting. By 9:15 this morning mortgage prices had improved from their lowest prices but still lower; the 10 yr note moved back to 3.49% where support was holding the yield.

At 9:30 the DJIA opened +50, the 10 yr 3.50% +3 bp and mortgage prices -7/32 (.22 bp).

More key data at 10:00; March ISM manufacturing index expected at 61.4 hit at 61.2. Subcomponents; prices pd index 85.0 frm 82.0, new orders at 63.3 frm 68.0 and employment at 63.0 frm 64.5. After the employment report earlier we cam ignore the employment index, new orders still strong above 50 but the focus has to be on the prices pd index that continues to increase. Businesses are beginning to pass along price increases after a year of holding as commodity prices have increased. The reaction to the report in the markets; no change in rates or the stock market.

Feb construction spending at 10:00, expected down 0.7% fell 1.4% after declining 1.8% in Jan. Not much interest in the decline, weather a factor in winter but we know construction is the lager of all lagging data points.

Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser out commenting on the employment report saying the strengthening economy may cause the Fed to end its QE 2 sooner than the end of June. One more Fed official increasingly concerned about inflationary impact. Yields on two-year notes increased five basis points to 0.87%, the 2 is more sensitive to inflation fears in the short run but it is the long end that will feel it also as investors will demand higher yields to offset any concerns that inflation would erode returns if it actually increases. The Fed wants inflation slightly higher to 2.0% frm 1.5% presently but unfortunately for the Fed it can't control inflation that precisely. The two-year note yield touched 0.89%, the highest level since May 2010, and was headed for a weekly increase of 14 basis points before settling back a little.

The US dollar is roaring ahead this morning on the better employment report and increasing belief US rates are about to increase as the Fed falls in line with most other central banks that have or are about to increase base lending rates. The impact today is a big decline in gold and stable oil prices that were higher on the day prior to the 8:30 employment report.