NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. home sales contracts signed in June unexpectedly rose across the country, but still were well below year-earlier levels, the National Association of Realtors said on Thursday.
The Pending Home Sales Index, which is based on contracts signed in June, was up 5.3 percent to 89.0 from a downwardly revised 84.5 in May. It was the highest reading for the index since October, when it was at 89.8.
MICHELLE MEYER, ECONOMIST, LEHMAN BROTHERS, NEW YORK:
“The data came in much better than we were expecting and much better than the market was expecting. I think a lot of the increase has to do with foreclosure sales. which are selling at quicker pace and have a faster turnaround time.” RONALD SIMPSON, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL CURRENCY ANALYSIS, ACTION ECONOMICS, TAMPA, FLORIDA:
“The number was better than expected. So far, we’ve seen dollar/yen move to session highs, euro/dollar to session lows. Equities have come off their worst levels. I think there are still some near-term concern over the economy. Some of the retail sales numbers that came in today were worse than expected. The initial claims number was pretty ugly. I think for now, that’s going to limit the upside for the dollar.” KURT BRUNNER, PORTFOLIO MANAGER, SWARTHMORE GROUP, PHILADELPHIA:
“Even given that number, I still think there is difficulty in the housing market. We may have hit a bottom, but we may be more in a kind of a bottoming plateau, let’s put it that way, versus a big rebound.
“I just think that obviously mortgages are still going to be difficult to get, there is still going to be defaults, affordability is still going to take some time, and improving demand will take time too.
“There are some bargains out there probably, but I don’t think we are done yet.”
ANDREW RICHMAN, MANAGING DIRECTOR, SUNTRUST’S PERSONAL ASSET MANAGEMENT DIVISION, WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA:
“It (pending home sales) was a little bit higher than expected. Looking at the underlying numbers though, we have to see how much of that is attributable to bank owned properties or foreclosures, which seem to be driving the markets right now.”
“There are some bottom feeders coming in to buy some of these homes in distressed situations. How long that will last I don’t know.”
PIERRE ELLIS, SENIOR GLOBAL ECONOMIST, DECISION ECONOMICS, NEW YORK:
“This is telling us that sales have stabilized. This raises some hopes that we’ve flattened out, which doesn’t mean the problem is solved.
“But the inventories of unsold homes remain huge given these low sales. Sales have to stop falling before the problem can be solved. It’s reassuring the fall in the previous month was reversed. This number has been running a 7 point range since last August and this number is now at the high end.”
MARKET REACTION: STOCKS: US benchmark S&P500 stock index firmed slightly to around 1279 but was still down 0.7 percent for the day; BONDS: US benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields edged up to around 4.01 percent; DOLLAR: The US dollar added to earlier gains with the euro quoted around $1.5356, a new seven week low and the Japanese yen 109.67; EARLIER DATA FROM AUG 7: Weekly U.S. jobless claims:
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