Saturday, 25 March 2006

Renewed signs of weakness in US economy, better signs from Japan and Germany

The positive numbers on existing home sales in the US was not repeated in new home sales. Reuters reports:

Sales of new U.S. homes took their biggest plunge in February in nearly nine years, while prices fell and the number of homes for sale hit a record high, signaling significant slowing in the housing market.

Sales of new single-family homes were down 10.5 percent, the government reported on Friday...

According to the Commerce Department, the pace of new single-family home sales slowed to a 1.080 million unit annual rate in February from January's downwardly revised 1.207 million unit rate...

While new home sales slowed, supply surged. The number of new homes available for sale climbed to a record 548,000 by the end of the month. At the current sales pace, that represents 6.3 months' supply -- the largest inventory of new homes since January 1996, the government report showed.

Median home prices declined for the fourth month in a row, hitting $230,400 in February, the lowest level since July 2005.

The Reuters report also highlights strong overall durable goods orders but weak demand outside transportation.

The Commerce Department earlier on Friday said new orders for U.S.-made durable goods rose 2.6 percent in February, twice forecasts, but a drop in demand outside transportation hinted at weakness in business spending plans.

New orders for durable goods excluding transportation fell 1.3 percent, well below Wall Street forecasts for a 0.9 percent rise. Transportation orders surged 13.4 percent.

In addition, orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft, a proxy for business spending, dropped 2.3 percent after a scant 0.3 percent rise in January. Wall Street analysts had expected a 1.0 percent increase...

The Commerce Department revised up January orders for durable goods... Durable goods orders fell 8.9 in January rather than the 9.9 percent previously reported, the department said.

Weakness was widespread outside of civilian aircraft and defense, and inventories fell 0.5 percent in February, the largest one-month decline since November 2003.

Calculated Risk calls the new home sales number "very weak" and says the indicator "is now flashing yellow".

If the news from the US yesterday was not good, at least it was better elsewhere.

Japan's tertiary sector index of service industry activity gained 2.2 percent in January while the all-industries index rose 1.4 percent.

Meanwhile, Germany reports that its inflation rate in March slowed to 1.9 percent, the lowest level since August 2005.


Rob Dawg said...

What positive homes sales numbers? The NAR reports 401,000 Feb 2006 sales closings of new, sfr, condos and co-ops versus 402,000 last year when the existing stock was some 1.3 million units fewer.

Just because the NAR choses to call fewer units with rising inventory from a rising base line a 5.2% seasonally adjusted increase doesn't mean sales actually increased.

This needs SEC investigation, the markets moved on this lie, people were hurt.

lim said...

I think the markets moved because the numbers were better than expected rather than because they were particularly good.

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