Wednesday, 20 July 2005

Yesterday's housing stories

Housing was the main story yesterday.

In the US, housing starts were flat in June after a revised fall in May, but building permits rose 2.4 percent. On balance, the housing sector appears to remain strong, especially in the South.

There was also some mixed news on the housing market in the UK. The Financial Times reported that according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the "number of inquiries from would-be house buyers with estate agents rose for the first time this year in June but an overwhelming majority of surveyors still saw house prices decline".

Singapore has not been associated with a strong housing market for some time, but things may be about to change. Yesterday, the Singapore government announced that it is easing rules on property financing and foreign home ownership. The Singapore stock market leapt 2 percent as a result, led by property and finance stocks.

In non-housing specific news, Japan saw its index of leading economic indicators for May revised downward to 36.4 percent from the previously-reported 40.0 percent while its index of coincident economic indicators was revised up to 60.0 percent from 55.6 percent. In Germany, the ZEW economic research institute's economic expectations index rose 17.5 points to plus 37 in July, the highest level since September 2004 and much better than expected.

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