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Pending Home Sales Index

February 03, 2010 | "Barron’s Econoday"

The pending home sales index recovered only a small fraction of its deep November plunge, up 1.0 percent in December to 96.6. What fractional improvement there is is offset in part by a 4 tenths downward revision to November, now at 95.6 for a 16.4 percent decline. Regional data were steady with the Northeast by far the weakest and the West, despite slippage in the month, still showing strength.

The second round of buyer credits will stay in place through April, setting up what looks to be a waiting period through much of the winter before a rush develops ahead of the expiration. A pre-expiration rush gave a major boost to sales of existing homes in November before sales fell off a cliff, down 16.7 percent in December. Citing the positive effects of the new home-buyer credits, the National Association of Realtors pegs 2010 full year sales of existing homes at 5.60 million, well up from 2009's 5.16 million. Equities and commodities moved lower in limited initial reaction to today's report.

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