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Tag Archives: Mark Lieberman

July Pending Home Sales in Steepest Drop So Far This Year

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) slipped 1.3 percent in July, the steepest decline this year, to 109.5, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday. Economists had expected the index for July would drop to 109.8, which would have been a 1.0 percent decline from June's 110.9. The June index was unchanged. NAR economist Lawrence Yun cited higher prices as affecting new contracts. ""Higher mortgage interest rates and rising home prices are impacting monthly contract activity in the high-cost regions of the Northeast and the West,"" Yun offered as an explanation for the drop in the PHSI.

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Case-Shiller Nears Five-Year High

Home prices rose again to their highest levels since September 2008 in June, increasing 2.2 percent, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Indices released Tuesday. The 20-city index was up 12.1 percent from a year earlier, and the companion 10-city index was up 11.9 percent. Case-Shiller's national index, reported quarterly by Standard & Poor's, was up 7.1 percent in the second quarter to 146.32, its highest level since third quarter 2008. All 20 cities included in the survey improved both month-to-month and year-to-year. The two surveys have improved monthly and yearly for 13 consecutive months.

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July New Home Sales Plunge to 9-Month Low

Despite improving builder confidence, sales of new single-family homes dropped to their lowest level since last October, the Census Bureau and HUD reported Friday. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales dropped a stunning 13.4 percent to 394,000 in July. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected June sales to drop to 487,000 from June's originally reported 497,000. June sales were revised to 455,000.

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First-Time Jobless Claims Hold at Pre-Recession Low

First-time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ending August 17 rose 13,000 to 336,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists expected the number of claims to rise to 330,000 from the 320,000 originally reported for the week ending August 10. The number of filings for that week was bumped up to 323,000.

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July Existing-Home Sales at Highest Level Since 2009

Existing-home sales soared 6.5 percent in July to an annual sales rate of 5.39 million--the highest level since November 2009--as the price of a single-family home slipped 0.2 percent, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Wednesday. Despite the month-over-month decline, the median price of an existing-home was $213,500, 13.7 percent ahead of the price in July 2012. It was the strongest yearly price gain since October 2005.

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Commentary: Summers Time?

With Ben Bernanke set to leave his post as Federal Reserve chairman next January, we could be set for a history-making appointment. Lawrence Summers' appointment would appear to be justified looking solely at his resume, but it was at Harvard he may have shown his true colors. Janet Yellen is considered a ""dove"" on the Federal Open Market Committee--more concerned with unemployment than inflation and thus less likely to press for higher interest rates.

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Single-Family Starts, Permits Drop In July

Led by multifamily activity, new housing permits and starts rose in July with new construction, continuing a shift from single-family homes. The Census Bureau and HUD reported Friday builders broke ground on new homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 896,000 units, up 5.9 percent from June, and filed permits for construction of 943,000 new units, up 2.7 percent from June. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected the pace of total starts to increase to 900,000 and total permits to increase to 918,000.

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August Builder Confidence Up; Reaches Record High in Midwest

The National Association of Home Builders' Housing Market Index (HMI)--a measure of builder confidence--increased again in August, climbing three points to 59, its highest reading since November 2005, the group reported Thursday. The index has improved 15 points (34 percent) in the last three months. At the same time, the index reading for the Midwest rose to a record high (64), and the reading for the South hit the highest level (56) since April 2006. While NAHB's national survey began in January 1985, the regional readings began in December 2004.

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First-Time Jobless Claims at Pre-Recession Levels

First-time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ending August 10 fell to the lowest level since January 2008, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The department said there were 320,000 new claims for unemployment insurance, a drop of 15,000 from the previous week. Economists expected the number of claims to drop to 330,000 from the 333,000 originally reported for the week ending August 3. The number of filings for that week was revised to 335,000.

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Housing Holds Back Retail Sales

A drop in housing-related retailers slowed retail sales last month. Total retail sales increased 0.2 percent in July, down from June's 0.6 percent increase, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday. Economists had expected sales to increase 0.3 percent. The weaker-than-expected retail sales report decreases the likelihood the Federal Reserve will begin to taper its bond buying monetary stimulus program.

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