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Author Archives: Mark Lieberman

Mark Lieberman is the former Senior Economist at Fox Business Network. He is now Managing Director and Senior Economist at Economics Analytics Research. He can be heard each Friday on The Morning Briefing on POTUS on Sirius-XM Radio 124.

May New Home Sales Hit Two-Year High

New home sales jumped to 369,000 in May - the highest level since April 2010 - as the median and average home prices both dropped, the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development reported jointly Monday. Economists had expected sales to reach 350,000 from the prior month's 343,000.

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Existing Home Sales Fall Again, Prices Rise in May

Existing home sales dropped to 4.55 million in May while the median price of an existing home rose to $182,600, the National Association of Realtors reported Thursday. Distressed homes accounted for 25 percent of May sales (15 percent were foreclosures and 10 percent were short sales), down from 28 percent in April and 31 percent in May 2011, the NAR said. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 19 percent below market value in May, while short sales were discounted 14 percent.

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Initial Jobless Claims Dip But Remain High

First time claims for unemployment insurance fell to 387,000 for the week ended June 16, from the prior week's 389,000, (revised from the originally reported 387,000) the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists had expected the report would show 386,000 initial claims.

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FOMC Moves Modestly, Actions Expected to Keep Mortgage Rates Low

With a lone dissent, the Federal Open Market Committee Wednesday voted no change in the target federal funds rate but agreed to expand its program to stimulate the economy by purchasing Treasury securities. While voting no change in the target Fed Funds rate, the FOMC said it would purchase Treasury securities with remaining maturities of 6 years to 30 years at the current pace and to sell or redeem an equal amount of Treasury securities with remaining maturities of approximately 3 years or less. The action is expected to keep mortgage rates at record lows.

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May Housing Permits At Highest Level Since 2008; Starts Drop

Housing permits soared in May to their highest level since September 2008, surging 7.9 percent to 780,000, the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development reported jointly Tuesday but housing starts dropped 4.8 percent to 708,000 giving back all of April's gain. At the same time, permits for April were revised upward to 723,000 from the originally reported 715,000. April housing starts were also revised upward to 744,000 from the originally reported 717,000.

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Builder Confidence Reaches 5-Year High in June

Builder confidence rose one point in June to 29, its highest level since May 2007, the National Association of Home Builders reported Monday. The Index for May, originally reported as 29, was revised down to 28. Economists had expected the Index to be flat compared the original report for May. The total Index in June was up 16 points from June 2011, the strongest year-year gain since December 1998. The Index has improved year-year for 12 straight months as it did from July 2009 through June 2010 before going into a five month swoon.

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Jobless Claims Climb for 5th Time in 6 Weeks

First time claims for unemployment insurance rose to 3086,000 for the week ended June 9, from the prior week's 38,000, (revised from the originally reported 377,000) the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists had expected the report would show 3795,000 initial claims.

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Initial Jobless Claims in First Drop in Five Weeks

First time claims for unemployment insurance fell to 377,000 for the week ended June 2, from the prior week's upwardly revised 389,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists had expected the report would be show 379,000 initial claims. The drop in claims was the first in five weeks.

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Beige Book Cites Modest to Moderate Growth With ‘Guarded’ Optimism.

The economy expanded at a modest to moderate pace from early April to the end of May, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday in its periodic Beige Book. The assessment reflected a weakening from the report in April when the expansion was characterized as moderate. Economic outlooks, according to the report, ""remain positive, but contacts were slightly more guarded in their optimism."" Activity in the New York, Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco districts was described as moderate, while the Richmond, St. Louis, and Minneapolis districts noted modest growth.

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Personal Income Growth Slows in April; Consumer Spending Up

Consumer spending grew just 0.3 percent in April, up slightly from 0.2 percent in March, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Friday. Economists had expected spending to be up 0.3 percent. At the same time, personal income grew 0.2 percent in April, BEA said, compared with market expectations of a 0.

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