Wednesday, 23 March 2011

US real estate prices fall in January, UK inflation hits 4.4 percent

Bloomberg reports that home prices in the US declined in January.

U.S. home prices fell 3.9 percent in January from a year earlier as the housing market struggled to recover from the worst crash in seven decades, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

The drop was led by an 8.6 percent slump in the region that includes Arizona and Nevada, followed by a 5.6 percent retreat in the area that includes Florida, the agency said in a report today. Prices nationwide fell 0.3 percent from December, compared with the 0.2 percent decline that was the average estimate of 17 economists in a Bloomberg survey.

So did commercial property prices.

U.S. commercial property prices slipped for the second straight month in January, as distressed real estate sales weighed on values, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

The Moody’s/REAL Commercial Property Price Index slumped 1.2 percent from the previous month and 4.3 percent from a year earlier. It’s up 4.2 percent from an eight-year low in August, Moody’s said in a statement today.

Fortunately, there is further evidence that US manufacturing continues to grow. The Richmond Fed reported on Tuesday that manufacturing activity continued to advance in March.

Manufacturing activity in the central Atlantic region expanded for the sixth straight month, according to the Richmond Fed's latest survey. Looking at the main components of activity, shipments and new orders grew more slowly, while employment growth held steady. Other indicators varied slightly but suggested continued solid activity...

Looking forward, manufacturers' optimism remained in place in March...

UK manufacturing also appears to be growing. Reuters reports:

Factory orders growth picked up more than expected in March to its highest pace in three years and firms expected to ramp up prices at the fastest rate in over two-and-a-half years, a survey showed on Tuesday.

The Confederation of British Industry survey's total order book balance jumped to +5 this month from -8 in February, well above expectations of a reading of -6.

The gauge for domestic price expectations rose to +33 in March from +32 in the previous month, hitting its highest level since July 2008, the survey showed.

Indeed, the problem for the UK economy seems to be inflation. Again from Guardian:

UK inflation rose to 4.4% last month, its highest level since October 2008, as rising fuel, domestic heating and clothing prices continued to drive up the cost of living.

February's consumer prices index (CPI) reading, which was higher than the City had expected, pushed the pound to a new 14-month high of $1.6377. The retail prices index, which includes housing costs, hit an annual rate of 5.5% - its highest level since July 1991.

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