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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Stutter
by Tom Moeller  January 25, 2012

A one-month drop belies a firming trend. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that December pending sales of single-family homes fell 3.5% (+5.6% y/y) following two months of strong increase. Sales rose 7.3% in November and by 10.4% during October. The index level of 96.6 (2001=100) remained nearly the highest since April of last year.

The decline in sales last month occurred in most regions of the country led by an 11.0% decline in the West. That mostly reversed November's strength. Sales in the Northeast fell a lesser 3.1% while sales in the South fell 2.6%. Bucking the downturn was the Midwest with a 4.0% increase. This latest was the third gain in as many months and pulled sales to their highest since April, 2010.

Pending home sales figures are analogous to the new home sales data from the Commerce Department in that they measure existing home sales when the sales contract is signed, not at the time the sale is closed. The series dates back to 2001 and the data are available in Haver's PREALTOR database.

Rehypothecation from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia is available here.

Pending Home Sales (2001=100) Dec Nov Oct Y/Y % 2011 2010 2009
Total 96.6 100.1 93.3 5.6 90.5 89.4 94.5
Northeast 74.7 77.1 71.3 -0.8 88.3 71.6 76.6
Midwest 95.3 91.6 88.7 13.3 81.8 80.3 88.6
South 101.1 103.8 99.5 4.9 98.4 97.0 98.0
West 107.9 121.2 105.5 3.7 104.4 100.8 109.3
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