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By Jason Stipp | 11-20-2009 06:07 AM

Housing Hurts, Merger Misses, and ETF High Jinks

Morningstar Markets Editor Jeremy Glaser on the housing start setback, AOL's sign-off from Time Warner, Amex's mobile move, and an ETF too bad to be true.

Jason Stipp: I'm Jason Stipp for Morningstar, and welcome to the Friday Five. This is our look back at the week's most notable headlines for investors. Here with me, as always, with the Five is Morningstar Markets Editor Jeremy Glaser. Jeremy, thanks for joining me.

Jeremy Glaser: Hi, Jason.

Stipp: So what have you got for the Five this week?

Glaser: Well, we've got some not-so-great housing news. AOL laid off even more workers. American Express made a bet on the future of payments. Bill Gross discussed a little bit about how he sees all companies as utilities now. And finally, we have a bit of an ETF spoof.

Stipp: OK. Well, please, please, get the bad news out of the way first. Let's start with housing.

Glaser: Yeah. Housing starts took an unexpected tumble, down 10.6%, after a couple months of it really looking like the housing market was starting to stabilize. Now, this doesn't mean that prices are going to fall another 50% or that we're going to crater again, but it definitely raises some questions about the sustainability of what's happening in the housing market right now, that people aren't putting in new orders to build new houses, and we're just depleting the supply that we already have.

I think there are still a lot of concerns about unemployment, and no one's ready to quite make the splurge, or maybe to commission that new house, if they are not so sure they're going to keep their job.

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