December home sales probably highest in 3 years
By Pamela Yip
Sales of U.S. homes probably rose in December to the highest level in three years as the industry headed toward a more rooted recovery in 2013, economists said before reports this week.
Combined purchases of new and existing properties climbed to a 5.49 million annual rate last month, the highest level since November 2009, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.
Another report may show the outlook for growth brightened last month.
Historically low mortgage rates, an improving job market and an increasing number of households will probably keep spurring demand for housing this year. The rebound comes as political wrangling in Washington over federal-spending cuts and the debt begins to shake consumer confidence, raising the risk that the world’s largest economy will suffer.
“The housing market is coming back, gaining momentum, and it’s one of the bright spots for the economy as we start 2013,” said Robert Dye, chief economist at Comerica Inc. in Dallas.
Purchases of previously owned homes climbed to a 5.1 million annual rate in December, the strongest since November 2009, economists project National Association of Realtors figures will show Tuesday. New-home sales picked up to a 385,000 annual rate for the month, the best showing since April 2010, according to the survey median ahead of a Friday Commerce Department report.
The combined reading would be the strongest since a government tax credit for first-time buyers first expired three years ago. It would the second-highest since August 2007, four months before the last recession began.
Also this week, the index of leading economic indicators, a gauge of the outlook for the next three to six months, will probably show the expansion will overcome the rancor of the fiscal talks in Washington. The median estimate of those surveyed projects the New York-based Conference Board’s measure climbed 0.4 percent last month after declining 0.2 percent in November.