WASHINGTON (April 25, 2005) â€“ Existing-home sales rose to near-record levels in March with a continuation of strong home price gains, according to the National Association of RealtorsÂ®.
Total existing-home sales â€“ including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops â€“ increased 1.0 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate* of 6.89 million from an upwardly revised pace of 6.82 million in February. March sales were the third highest level on record, and were 4.9 percent above the 6.57 million-unit pace in March 2004. The record was a sales rate of 7.02 million in June 2004, followed by 6.98 million in November 2004.
According to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORSÂ®
The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California during March 2005 was $495,400, a 15.7 percent increase over the revised $428,060 median for March 2004, C.A.R. reported Monday. The March 2005 median price increased 5.2 percent compared with February’s revised $470,920 median price.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI), the most closely watched inflation gauge, jumped 0.6% in March, the biggest surge in five months, as the costs of energy, clothing and airline fares all rose sharply, the Labor Department reported April 20.
The Producer Price Index (PPI), which measures wholesale inflationary pressures, shot up 0.7% in March, the Labor Department said April 19. Excluding the volatile energy and food sectors, the increase was 0.1%.
The Conference Board reported April 21 that its composite index of Leading Economic Indicators fell 0.4% in March, a sign that the nationâ€™s economy might be slowing. Analysts had forecast a 0.3% drop.
Housing starts plunged 17.6% in March, marking their steepest drop in more than 14 years, the Commerce Department said April 19. Single-family starts slid 14.4% and starts on multi-unit structures tumbled 31.6%. Despite the decline, a look at the first quarter as a whole still shows strength as the pace of starts averaged a very healthy 2.087 million vs. 1.975 million in the fourth quarter.
For the week ending April 15, initial jobless claims plunged 36,000, the largest drop in more than three years, the Labor Department said April 21. This week look for updates on Durable Goods Orders on April 27.