Some quick hits on a busy morning
* In more concrete evidence of a housing market bottom (sarcasm on here), the fifth-largest builder in the U.S., KB Home, announced $255 million in charges to cut the value of its home inventory. It also wrote off $88 million in land options.
* Not to be outdone, the third-largest builder, Centex, said it would take a whopping $510 million in charges in the fiscal third quarter. The builder is walking away from options to buy 37,000 homesites, costing it $150 million. It's also writing down land to the tune of $300 million and taking a $60 million tax-related provision.
* Meanwhile, mortgage lender IndyMac just dropped its own earnings bomb. The company said it will earn 97 cents per share in the fourth quarter, down from a previous forecast of $1.30 per share to $1.40 per share. Once chief culprit: "an increase in credit costs." More and more loans are going bad throughout the industry, requiring lenders to increase their loan loss provisions and take write-downs on the value of souring mortgages.
* Last but not least, Japanese overnight lending rates are climbing to the highest level in more than 8 years. It looks like the Bank of Japan will hike rates another quarter-point at its policy meeting this week. Only a few weeks ago, no action was expected. Coupled with the surprise Bank of England rate hike several days ago, this could put more upward pressure on global interest rates.
Like I said, it's busy, busy, busy out there!