The Federal Reserve will address the strains in the market for Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities. The Fed wants to ensure a positive flow of credit to residents and businesses throughout the country.

During their announcement, they revealed they would “purchase at least $500 billion of Treasury securities and at least $200 billion of mortgage-backed securities.” The Feds also proposed an establishment of a Main Street Business Lending Program that will support lending to qualifying small and medium-sized businesses.

“The Fed’s action represents an open-ended and unlimited expansion of quantitative easing to control interest rates,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “The central bank’s role of lender of last resort has been expanded to be buyer of last resort in order to support liquidity and the operation of financial markets. The Fed clearly intends to use its full powers to support the economy during an extremely disruptive phase.”

During this time, the central bank will take many steps to see this plan to fruition. They will establish new programs that will support the flow of credit to consumers, employers and businesses in the US. They will provide $300 billion in new financing and the Department of the Treasury will use the Exchange Stabilization Fund (ESF) to provide $30 billion.

There will be three facilities in total. They will create the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility (PMCCF) which will support new bond and loan issuance. The Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility (SMCCF) will supply liquidity for outstanding corporate bonds. The third will be called the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) which will support the flow of credit to consumers and businesses. This third facility will issue ABS (asset-backed securities) that are supported by student loans, auto loans, credit card loans, SBA (Small Business Administration and other established assets.

“The Federal Reserve is committed to use its full range of tools to support the U.S. economy in this challenging time and thereby promote its maximum employment and price stability goals,” as stated in a press statement on the Federal Reserve website.

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The US Labor Department’s Jobs report for February showed the American labor market remained strong. Reflected in the report showed that 273,000 jobs were added by the US economy. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics said this was substantially more than us economists had foreseen. In fact, the numbers resulted in the largest monthly increase since May 2018 which put the unemployment rate back to the historic low of 3.5%.

Among the job gains per industry, the leading gains of new jobs were in health care and social assistance, food services and government. Within those industries, 7,000 people were hired for the April Census.

The Institute of Supply Management supplied data showing that the US manufacturing sector has been growing the past five months. The ISM report is just another factor indicating that the US economy is in a good place.

“With global growth stabilizing in recent months and domestic economic activity also starting to pick up, the ISM survey adds to the evidence that 2020 is likely to be a better year for US manufacturers,” wrote Capital Economics’ Senior US Economist Andrew Hunter in a note.

The year leading up to the February job survey paychecks rose by 3% with a 0.3% bump in February. The month’s report in addition to better-than-expected services PMI from the Institute for Supply Management was a plus for the US economy according to Michael Hanson, SVP of research at Fisher Investments.

This is just icing on top of the January report which beat expectations. The Labor Department’s Jobs report found that the US economy added 225,000 jobs with an unemployment rate of 3.6%. Job growth was seen in the construction, health care, transportation and warehousing industries. According to Capital Economics Chief US Economist Paul Ashworth, mild weather in January boost the construction and transportation sectors.

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Mortgage rates have been at record lows for a while now, but with a new emergency rate cut from Federal Reserve rates are at historic lows. Now is the time to refinance or buy a home with the half percentage point cut by the Fed this week which puts the benchmark interest rate range at 1% to 1.25%.

“It’s definitely a good time for someone looking to buy a home to get financing,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate.

Hamrick believes that rates will still go lower. According to Freddi Mac, last weeks are at an average 3.45% for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and 2.95% for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage.

“If you’re trying to look for the silver lining in the midst of the current climate,” said Hamrick, “the mortgage interest rate is close to the top of the list.”

The spring market is looking up with the help of the rate cuts. Those that are on the cusp of purchasing a new home might move a step quicker with the favorable rates. The entire real estate sector, not just individual buyers will benefit.

“Hesitant home buyers will be enticed to take advantage of low-interest rates,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, in a statement.

As mentioned earlier, rates will drop even more but should home-buyers wait for lower rates? Those that are in the market to refinance or secure a new mortgage need to weigh the benefits. According to Mike Hennessy, a certified financial planner with Harbor Crest Wealth Advisors in Fort Lauderdale, “if you can meaningfully save on your interest costs, build equity quicker, or extract equity at a reasonable cost to fund a renovation project, then take the bird in hand today.”

Run the numbers to see if it would be beneficial to refinance. Comparing your current rate with the rate that is being offered on a mortgage refinance will help answer your question.

“If the new rate is 75 basis points (0.75%) lower than the current rate, that it’s generally going to be worth it to refinance after the costs of the refi,” said Cynthia Meyer, a certified financial planner with Real Life Planning in New Jersey.

“If you’re planning to stay in your home, run the numbers to see if it makes sense to refi from a 30- to a 15-year mortgage as well,” she said. “You may be able to pay around the same amount every month and get your house paid off a lot sooner, with lower total interest costs.”

Even with the historic low rates, always shop around. Lenders offer competitive rates and some will include closing cost.

“You shouldn’t assume you’re going to get a good deal from a big bank just because you have your checking and saving account with them,” Danielle Seurkamp, a certified financial planner with Well Spent Wealth Planning in Cincinnati, Ohio said. “Often the smaller, community banks offer the best deals.”

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Decreasing mortgage rates along with solid growth of spending on single-family construction and remodeling have kept the private residential construction up for the sixth consecutive month. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the Census Constructions Spending data reveal a 1.4% increase to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $540.7 billion for total private residential construction spending this last December.

The National Association of Home Builders provides a monthly estimate of the total dollar value of construction work done called The Value of Construction Put in Place Survey (VIP). On the first day of each month data collection and estimation activities begin for the month. The data that is recorded includes the cost of labor and materials, cost of architectural and engineering work, overhead costs, interest and taxes paid during construction, and contractor’s profits. The survey is based on construction work that is done each month on improvements to existing structures or new structures for private and public sectors.

The growth in spending on single-family construction and remodeling has been great for the housing industry. Single-family spending was up 2.7% in December 2019 at an annual pace of $289.3 billion. This was 5.2% higher compared to the figures reported in December 2018. The figures included in the private residential improvements were based on spending on remodeling, major replacements, and additions to owner-occupied housing units. In December the figures rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $193.7 billion.

In the second half of 2019, as seen in the graph, there has been solid growth in single-family construction and home improvement. Also shown is new multifamily construction spending which slowed down since last summer but did see solid growth from 2010 to 2016 and a growth spurt from late 2018 to early 2019.

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Click Here For the Source of the Information.

If you are a local then you know about Del Porto Ristorante in downtown Covington. The owners, Torre and David Salazzo, serve delicious Italian cuisine at the local restaurant. The Salazzos want to open a second restaurant that will have a broader selection of food and flavor with a laid back neighborhood vibe. Greyhound will be located just down the street from Del Porto Ristorante and will be a gastropub.

Del Porto Ristorante opened its doors to Covington in 2002. The Solazzos opened the restaurant in a smaller location than it currently resides. The original had just 10 tables which served “a fresh, seasonal take on regional Italian cuisine, and an alternative to the more prevalent local standard of Creole Italian.” In 2007, Del Porto moved to its larger location and then grew again taking over the adjacent storefront.

Although the new restaurant will be casual with a laid back atmosphere, it will be a cut above traditional tavern-style. There will be a wood-burning oven for pizza along with other fanfares such as burgers, tapas-style dishes, German sausages, fried chicken, Reuben sandwiches, matzo ball soup and beef short ribs just to name a few. Inspiration for the unique menu will come from the “family meals” that are made for the staff at Del Porto. The bar will offer bottled and canned beers with some offered on tap.

“It just opens up a lot of possibilities for us,” Solazzo said. “It won’t be a huge menu, but we keep on putting down all the food we like to eat, so it’s been growing.”

The Greyhound, named after the Greyhound bus station that once resided at 705 E. Boston St., plans to begin serving lunch and dinner in May 2020. Work on the building has begun and will include configuring the restaurant into a main bar and a separate pizza bar.

“In the years we’ve been here, we’ve seen a lot of young people growing up, we think there’s a need for a place like this that’s more casual,” she said. “We want to stay in our little downtown area and bring something new here.”

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Two major companies have announced plans to locate headquarters on the Northshore. Ampirical Solutions and Medline are slated to build two new headquarters in the area.

Ampirical Solutions LLC based out of Mandeville is an electrical infrastructure firm that specializes in design and construction of electrical substations and switchyards, protective relays and controls, transmission lines, distributions lines and related infrastructure. Customers include investor-owned utilities, municipalities, industrial plants, electrical cooperatives and independent power producers.

The company wants to take the existing St. Tammany Parish locations and combine them into the new 78,000-square foot corporate headquarters on a 5.5-acre site. The new building, located near Covington, will create 400 direct jobs over the next 10 years. The average salary will be more than $85,000 and will include the existing 120 current Ampirical employees. Indirect jobs are expected to be around 350 construction jobs that will result in a $20 million capital investment. The project is projected to be completed by the end of 2020 and would not be taking place without the help from the Louisiana Economic Development, Greater New Orleans Inc. and St. Tammany Corporation.

Medline Industries is the largest privately held company that is both a manufacturer and distributor of medical supplies and clinical programs. The company, based out of Illinois, wants to build a medical distribution center near Covington. The new center will manage packaging and shipment of all medical supplies ordered by the individual health care providers of the Southeast U.S. region, including items such as exam and surgical gloves, face masks, isolation gowns, reusable textiles, incontinence products, electrosurgical products and housekeeping supplies, according to the Louisiana Economic Development press release.

The 53-million dollar distribution center will be located north of I-12 and LA 21. The new building will replace the existing distribution center between Covington and Goodbee. The 800,000 square foot facility will create over 460 new jobs and retain the existing 36 jobs.

“As a member of the Louisiana community for more than a decade, we are very pleased to continue to grow as an employer and investor in the state,” said Bill Abington, executive vice president of global operations for Medline. “With health care growing so rapidly in the region, the location is ideal for easy access to health care providers while also letting us maintain and grow our current team. We are grateful to the state, Louisiana Economic Development and officials in St. Tammany Parish who have recognized the potential of the project and worked to bring it to fruition.”

Click Here For the Source of the Information.

Click Here For the Source of the Information.

St. Tammany Parish residents are familiar with the I-12 traffic especially after the May 26, 2018 crash that closed the highway for hours leaving commuters stranded on the eastbound side. The state Department of Transportation and Development is ready to begin the first phase of the $55 million I-12 widening project.

The first phase of the three phase project will be completed by James Construction Group based out of Baton Rouge, LA. The two and a half year first phase will cover 3.26-miles of I-12 between US 190 and LA 59 which over 76,000 vehicles travel per day. A third lane will be added in both directions along with widening bridges over U.S. 190, Ponchitolawa Creek and the Tammany Trace.

“This (first) project is just one phase in the overall three-phase plan to widen this critical corridor to reduce traffic congestion along I-12 and strengthen this section as a vital economic corridor,” DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson said.

Funds to complete the first phase will come from federal transportation dollars. Funds belonging to the federal transportation that were not used by other states were given to states that had obligated all of their federal highway funding.

“The widening of I-12 in St. Tammany Parish is a project that has been on the books for years but was not able to move forward due to funding,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement.

As for phase two, which will include widening LA 21 and US 190, will take place west of the first phase. Bids for the second phase will be looked at in the Spring of 2020. Cost will be covered for phase two with a $25 million federal grant, $5 million from the state and $7.2 million from St. Tammany Parish.

Plans are also being made for the third phase that will widen I-12 from LA 1077 to LA 21.

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Good news for the new year in the nation’s economy sector. According to CNN Business, the housing market is thriving and will continue to thrive into the new year boosting the economy in 2020. Although the housing market is just a small factor in the boost, it still is important for the economy as a […]

The National Association of Realtors reported good news for home sales this fall. According to their data, home sales were 4.4% higher annually. This stems from the boost in newly built home sales, lower 30-year fixed rates and an overall increase annually in pending home sales. Across the country for-sale inventory has fallen but the […]

Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors predicts a new-home sales jump of 11% to 750,000 in 2020. The forecast would be the highest reading since 2007. This will bring a rise to a 13-year high in sales of new homes. If this is the case, 2020 will definitely avoid a recession. […]