Just in...New-home sales in March soared 13.8%, the largest percentage increase in 13 years, the Commerce Department said April 26. The median price of new homes sold, however, fell to $224,000, down 2.2% from what homes were selling for in March 2005.
Existing-home sales rose by 0.3%, marking the second consecutive monthly increase after five months of declines. (It's not a tremendous increase, but perhaps is an indication of the upcoming trends in buying. Our area of Southern Maryland has seen a slight decline in resale value, and an increase from 28 days to 120+ days for list -to-contract time).
The number of homes for sale increased 7.0%, representing a five-and-a-half-month supply at the March sales pace, the largest supply since 1998. Median prices of existing homes are up 7.4% in the past 12 months to $218,000, the smallest price gain since January 2004.
Meanwhile, the U.S. economy bounded ahead at a 4.8% pace for the opening quarter of the year, the strongest growth spurt in two-and-a-half years, the Commerce Department reported April 28. The increase marked a vast improvement from the feeble 1.7% annual rate registered in the final quarter of 2005.
Consumer confidence in April, according to the Conference Board's Index of Leading Economic Indicators, rose to 109.6, up from a revised 107.5 in March. April's reading, important because it helps predict future economic activity, reached its highest level in four years. This is really good news.
On April 27 at the Joint Economic Committee of the Senate and House, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke lent cheer to U.S. financial markets by saying that a pause in the Fed's tightening program is possible. The Federal Open Market Committee, which makes monetary policy for the Fed, meets May 10.
This week look for updates on personal income and construction spending on May 1.
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