Pending home sales rise in November
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) interpreted a rise in pending home sales as a sign of a gradual housing market recovery in 2011.
The NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index rose 3.5% to 92.2 in November, compared to October. The index is down, however, from the reading of 97.0 in November of last year.
Lawrence Yun, the group’s chief economist, added that further economic gains are needed to realize a recovery.
“If we add 2 million jobs as expected in 2011, and mortgage rates rise only moderately, we should see existing-home sales rise to a higher, sustainable volume,” Yun said. “Credit remains tight, but if lenders return to more normal, safe underwriting standards for creditworthy buyers, there would be a bigger boost to the housing market and spillover benefits for the broader economy.”
Case-Shiller says home prices weakened in October
Home prices across the United States weakened in October, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indeces.
Home prices decreased in all 20 MSAs (metropolitan statistical areas) from their September levels, according to the report.
The chairman of the index committee did not attempt to sugar-coat the data, as six cities set new lows for the period since their peaks in 2006.
"There is no good news in October’s report," said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor’s. "Home prices across the country continue to fall. The trends we have seen over the past few months have not changed. The tax incentives are over and the national economy remained lackluster in October, the month covered by these data."
The six cities setting new lows on the index were: Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Miami, Fla.; Portland, Ore.; Seattle and Tampa, Fla.
Consumer Confidence Index slips
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index slipped to a reading of 52.5 in December, down from November’s figure of 54.3.
The percentage of consumers claiming business conditions are "bad" decreased to 41.2% from 42.9%, however, those claiming business conditions are "good" declined to 7.5% from 8.5%.
"Despite this month’s modest decline, consumer confidence is no worse off today than it was a year ago," said Lynn Franco, director of the Consumer Research Center at The Conference Board. "Consumers’ assessment of the current state of the economy and labor market remains tepid, and their outlook remains cautious. Thus, all signs continue to suggest that the economic expansion will continue well into 2011, but that the pace of growth will remain moderate."
The data released Tuesday morning is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households.