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   Brian Wesbury
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  New single-family home sales increased 17.5% in December

Implications:  New home sales jumped 17.5% in December, the biggest percentage gain since 1992, coming in well above consensus expectations.  The increase was mostly due to stronger sales in the West.  Outside the West, sales were up only slightly.  It is important to note that new home inventories are still declining and are already at levels not seen since the late 1960s.  As inventories keep falling, homebuilders will eventually need to start building more homes.  Given a growing population, the pace of new home sales should roughly triple over the next several years to about 950,000.  On the price front, the median price of new homes sold rose to $241,500 in December, coming in at the highest level since April 2008. This was probably influenced by the large increase of sales in the West where homes are usually priced higher.  Median new home prices are up 8.5% versus a year ago.  In other recent housing news, the Case-Shiller index, a measure of home prices in the 20 largest metro areas, dipped 0.5% in November (seasonally-adjusted) versus a consensus expected decline of 0.8%.  Prices are down 1.6% in the past year, but still up 1.2% versus the cycle low in May 2009.  The FHFA index, a price measure for homes financed by conforming mortgages, was unchanged in November but down 4.3% in the past year.  In the factory sector, the Richmond Fed index, a measure of manufacturing in the mid-Atlantic, came in at +18 in January versus +25 in December.  Although lower, the Richmond index still signals strong growth in manufacturing activity.

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Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 @ 10:45 AM • Post Link Share: 
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