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Home Sales Probably Held Near Decade Low: U.S. Economy Preview

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Shobhana Chandra
Sunday, Aug 24, 2008

Home sales in the U.S. probably teetered near a 10-year low, property values dropped and consumer spending cooled, signaling the economy has taken another turn for the worse, reports this week may show.

A total of 5.435 million new and existing homes were purchased in July at an annual pace, according to the median estimate of economists polled by Bloomberg News. June’s 5.39 million rate was the weakest since at least 1999. Spending probably rose 0.3 percent in July, half the prior month’s gain.

The real-estate recession will persist into next year as stricter lending rules and higher borrowing costs shackle demand. At the same time, equity is disappearing as home prices fall, and wages aren’t keeping up with inflation, depriving Americans of the means to maintain spending, the biggest part of the economy.

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“The economy is going down a shaky path,” said Maxwell Clarke, chief U.S. economist at IDEAGlobal Inc. in New York. “We’re not going to see a rebound in housing anytime soon. Consumers are living hand to mouth, and the outlook for spending is very weak.”

Purchases of new houses dropped 0.9 percent to an annual rate of 525,000, according to the median estimate of economists polled ahead of a Commerce Department report on Aug. 26. March’s 513,000 pace was the lowest since 1991.

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This article was posted: Sunday, August 24, 2008 at 10:50 am

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