Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Existing Home Sales Still Strong, Sentiment Remains Weak

- Existing Home Sales for September were 7.28M versus estimates of 7.2M and 7.28M in August.
- Consumer Confidence for October fell to 85.0 versus estimates of 88.0 and a reading of 87.5 in September.
BOTTOM LINE: US previously owned home sales were unchanged in September from a month earlier, matching the second-highest level on record and suggesting the recent rise in mortgage rates and waning consumer confidence has yet to slow demand, Bloomberg said. The median price of existing homes rose 13.4% year-over-year to $212,000. Sales rose 3.7% in the South and .8% in the Northeast. They fell 4.1% in the West and 3% in the Midwest. The supply of existing homes for sale held steady at 4.7 months’ worth. The Realtors group forecasts existing home sales to reach an all-time record this year of 7.1 million. The housing market continues to show signs of slowing, not plunging, which is a big positive for the overall US economy.
Consumer confidence unexpectedly fell to a two-year-low in October as high energy prices, bird flu fears, scandals and two devastating hurricanes left Americans feeling unsettled, Bloomberg reported. The gauge of optimism about consumers’ present situation fell to 108.2 from 110.4. The share of consumers that said jobs were hard to get rose to 25.3% this month from 25% last month. However, the percentage of consumers planning to buy a car rose to 6.1% from 5.8%. I continue to believe consumer sentiment will rebound into year-end as gas prices, which are already down 45% from peak levels in Sept., continue to fall and natural gas prices begin falling meaningfully next month.

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