CNN Financial News Producer
We have new signs this morning that the housing market may finally be hitting bottom.
Home prices continued to tumble in April, falling more than 18% from a year earlier. But the month-over-month change narrowed sharply, indicating that housing markets may be starting to turn a corner.
The 20-city slice of the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index recorded a drop of 0.6% from March to April, compared with a 2.2% drop in the prior month. The index has declined every month since July 2006.
And while S&P’s David Blitzer cautions that one month's data cannot determine if a turnaround has begun, some stabilization may be appearing in some regions.
Consumer confidence drops
On the flip side, however, consumer confidence fell unexpectedly in June after two straight months of gains as Americans' optimism over business and job conditions weakened.
The Conference Board, an industry group, said this morning that its index of consumer attitudes dropped to 49.3 this month from a downwardly revised 54.8 in May. Wall Street was expecting a reading of 55.0 for June.
GM makes its case for 'new GM'
General Motors is set to press a bankruptcy judge today to approve its plan to leave its debt behind as it sells its preferred assets to a "new GM."
GM, which filed for bankruptcy protection on June 1, is trying to win approval to create a new company and shed crushing debt and expensive contracts.
U.S. taxpayers would end up owning 60% of the new GM, with other stakes held by Canadian governments, bondholders and the United Auto Workers union.
Holders of $27 billion in GM bonds would get stock in the reorganized company, as will a union-controlled trust fund that will take stock rather than the $20 billion in cash it had been owed to pay future retiree health care costs. Those 650,000 retirees will have their coverage reduced.
GM also plans to close more than a dozen factories, drop several brands and shut down up to 40% of its network of 6,000 dealerships.
Detroit joblessness tops among big cities
The unemployment crisis is a nationwide concern, but the collapse of the auto industry has made Detroit joblessness particularly painful.
A government report released today shows the Detroit metro area continued to have the highest unemployment rate of large cities, at 14.9%, in May. That number was calculated even before General Motors declared bankruptcy, meaning future reports could be even worse.
The overall report from the Labor Department was also bleak. All 372 metropolitan areas saw unemployment rates tick higher, with 112 cities at 10% or higher, and 15 of those at 15% or more. The highest rate of unemployment for a metro area of any size was in El Centro, Calif., near the Mexican border, at 26.8%.
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