Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mound City Money

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mound City Money

Article excerpt

From David Nicklaus' blog about St. Louis business. STLtoday.com/ moundcitymoney

Local home prices rise * House prices in St. Louis rose 2.1 percent in the first quarter, a federal agency says.

The gain in the Federal Housing Finance Agency's purchase-only index puts St. Louis area prices 5.1 percent above where they were a year ago, continuing a gradual recovery that began in 2012.

The first-quarter figure, which is seasonally adjusted, was an improvement over the area's fourth-quarter price rise of just 0.08 percent.

Nationally, prices rose 1.3 percent in the first quarter and 6.6 percent in the latest 12 months. Charleston, S.C., had the nation's hottest housing market in the first quarter, with prices rising 10 percent. New Orleans brought up the rear with a 2.6 percent decline. Prices fell in 29 of the largest 100 metropolitan areas.

Prices still haven't made a full recovery from the recession. In St. Louis, they're 12 percent above the low point in 2011, but still 9.6 percent below the 2007 peak.

Looked at another way, prices in the St. Louis area are about what they were in the first quarter of 2010. So house prices have recovered from the losses they suffered after the recession of 2008- 2009, but not from the losses during the recession. (05.23)

Investing in gridlock * Nobody likes gridlock, but in Washington it seems to be here to stay.

Daniel Clifton and Ryan Grabinski, Washington-based analysts for Strategas Research Partners, figured there ought to be a way to invest in the do-nothing paralysis that seems to have taken over our political system. They created a Congressional Gridlock Index, consisting of long positions in 11 companies that benefit from the status quo and short positions in seven companies that really need action on a critical issue.

The long positions include Fannie Mae, whose shares keep trading based on hope that Congress won't abolish the whole government- sponsored enterprise model; Yum Brands, a restaurant company that's been lobbying against a minimum wage increase; and CBS, which benefits from a lack of limits on political advertising. …

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