July New, Existing U.S. Home Sales Better Than Expected

By John S. McClenahen In contrast to the frosty pace of capital investment and an economic coolness in manufacturing, U.S. housing is hot again. Sales of new one-family homes were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.017 million in July, 6.7% better than June's revised rate of 953,000, reports the U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of the Census. Economists expectations were for a lower figure of 1 million. Meanwhile, sales of existing homes rose 4.5% in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.33 million, says the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Realtors (NAR). Economists were generally anticipating a 5.3 million rate. "Mortgage interest rates were historically low in July," notes David Lereah, NAR's chief economist. "Combined with other strong market fundamentals, this is keeping the housing market on track for another record year." NAR is predicting existing home sales of 5.44 million in 2002, which would top last year's record by 2.7%.

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