VIX ETFs: Trading Like Hot Cakes

VIX ETFs: Trading Like Hot Cakes

Bets on stock-market volatility are gobbling up a record share of U.S. stock trading. A frenzy of trading in the five largest exchange-traded products that profit either when volatility spikes or declines accounted for 7.2% of total composite stock market volume Thursday, an unprecedented feat for these hot-potato products, according to WSJ Market Data Group. […]

25 Best Paying Cities for Nurses

25 Best Paying Cities for Nurses

Nurses are often the unsung heroes of the healthcare industry, assisting doctors and patients and keeping hospitals running smoothly. Yet nurses’ wages vary greatly across the country, ranging from a healthy six-figure salary to just over $45,000 a year depending on the city.

Of the 25 cities in which registered nurses are paid the highest salaries, 19 are located in California. One reason for this is the strength of California’s nurses union, the California Nurses Association. According to the group, nurses “represented by CNA/NNOC have many of the best collective bargaining contracts in the nation.” Many cities in California also have high costs of living, which often result in higher salaries. For example, nurses in the famously expensive San Jose and Santa Cruz metro areas earn over $130,000 per year.

Conversely, many of the areas where nurses are paid less have lower costs of living, including small rural areas in Alabama and Tennessee. For instance, in the relatively small area of Florence-Muscle Shoals, Alabama, registered nurses earn $46,190 – about $22,000 less than the national median salary. However, registered nurses earn more than the median salary for all jobs in each area, including in the 25 areas where nurses earn the least.

Click here to see the best paying cities for registered nurses.
Click here to see the worst paying cities for registered nurses.

In order to identify the metropolitan areas that pay registered nurses the highest and lowest salaries, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics program for May 2016. The largest hospital for each area is based on the number of employees.

NAHB: Builder Confidence increased to 68 in August

NAHB: Builder Confidence increased to 68 in August

by Bill McBride on 8/15/2017 10:16:00 AM

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported the housing market index (HMI) was at 68 in August, up from 64 in July. Any number above 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor.

From NAHB: Builder Confidence Springs Back with Four-Point August Jump

Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes rose four points in August to a level of 68 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).

“Our members are encouraged by rising demand in the new-home market,” said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald, a home builder and developer from Kerrville, Texas. “This is due to ongoing job and economic growth, attractive mortgage rates, and growing consumer confidence.”

 “The fact that builder confidence has returned to the healthy levels we saw this spring is consistent with our forecast for a gradual strengthening in the housing market,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “GDP growth improved in the second quarter, which helped sustain housing demand. However, builders continue to face supply-side challenges, such as lot and labor shortages and rising building material costs.”

All three HMI components posted gains in August. The component gauging current sales conditions rose four points to 74 while the index charting sales expectations in the next six months jumped five points to 78. Meanwhile, the component measuring buyer traffic increased a single point to 49.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast rose one point to 48. The West, South and Midwest all remained unchanged at 75, 67 and 66, respectively.
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NAHB HMI Click on graph for larger image.

This graph show the NAHB index since Jan 1985.

This was above the consensus forecast – a solid reading.

Hotels: Occupancy Rate Down Year-over-Year

Hotels: Occupancy Rate Down Year-over-Year

by Bill McBride on 8/10/2017 03:33:00 PM

From STR: US hotel results for week ending 5 August

The U.S. hotel industry reported mostly negative year-over-year results in the three key performance metrics during the week of 30 July through 5 August 2017, according to data from STR.

In comparison with the week of 31 July through 6 August 2016, the industry recorded the following:

Occupancy: -1.5% to 74.5%
• Average daily rate (ADR): +0.7% to US$129.00
• Revenue per available room (RevPAR): -0.8% to US$96.08
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The following graph shows the seasonal pattern for the hotel occupancy rate using the four week average.

Hotel Occupancy RateThe red line is for 2017, dash light blue is 2016, dashed orange is 2015 (best year on record), blue is the median, and black is for 2009 (the worst year since the Great Depression for hotels).

Currently the occupancy rate is tracking close to last year, and behind the record year in 2015.

Seasonally, the occupancy rate will remain strong over the next few weeks and then decline into the Fall.

Data Source: STR, Courtesy of

50 Best Horror Films of All Time

50 Best Horror Films of All Time

Horror films have existed for nearly as long as motion pictures have been around. Beginning with French director Georges Méliès’s 1896 film “The Haunted Castle,” audiences have sought the thrill of movies that frighten, disturb, and deal in the morbid and macabre.

Yet, while audience demand has kept a steady stream of horror flicks in theaters and propelled titles such as “Jaws” and “The Sixth Sense” to the top of the box office, the genre has not always elicited respectability among critics. For instance, it was not until 1992 that a horror film – “The Silence of the Lambs” – won Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

The impression of horror movies as a purely lowbrow art form seems to have largely been shed. In his backhanded, two-star review of 1974’s “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” famed critic Roger Ebert wrote that audiences are left with “an effective production in the service of an unnecessary movie.” That unnecessary movie has since gone on to secure a place in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, and in 2012 it was included in the highly respected Sight and Sound’s 250 Greatest Films of All Time list. Films that were once considered pointlessly shocking are now viewed as legitimate works of art.

Today, modern horror films are being recognized with more awards than their predecessors. Although this is due in part to more organizations granting awards, it also reflects a newer mindset that these movies are deserving of appreciation. Hence George Romero’s highly influential 1968’s “Night of the Living Dead” receiving only one award, while the more recent 2007’s “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” receiving 34.

Click here to see the best horror films of all time.
Click here to see our methodology.

This newfound appreciation is widely spread across the genre, as seen by the variety of movies that made our list of best horror films. While the older classics such a “Frankenstein” and “Dracula” are greatly represented, there are films from every decade – aside from the 1990’s – including four movies from the 2010’s.