How to look at new home sale figures

Man checks bar graph

TEXT OF STORY

Renita Jablonski: The Commerce Department is releasing the latest data on New Home Sales in the U.S., later this morning. The numbers will reflect sales for the month of November, and many economists are expecting a drop from the previous month. Jeremy Hobson reports now on how the New Home Sales figures stack up against other key economic indicators.


Jeremy Hobson: All these numbers can get confusing. So I got my computer to help me sort them out. There are jobless claims . . .

Computer Voice: Up slightly. Bad.

Durable Goods Orders . . .

Computer Voice: Up slightly, but below expectations. Bad.

And consumer confidence.

Computer Voice: Up slightly. Good.

Peter Morici: As we look at monthly data, some always give us a positive sign. Many give us a negative sign. Overall, the average is the economy is slowing.

That's Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland's Business School.
He predicted lower new home sales, because there are still plenty of existing homes waiting to be sold. Until they are, he says, it'll be a ho-hum housing market.

But Global Insight Analyst Patrick Newport says we shouldn't give too much weight to home sales figures.

Patrick Newport: The key number that we focus on is the employment number, because it's the best indicator of what's happening in the economy today.

The government releases employment numbers for December next Friday.

In Washington, I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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