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Drastic decrease in US home sales

Friday, February 23, 2018

WASHINGTON - US home sales unexpectedly fell in January, leading to the biggest year-on-year decline in more than three years, as a chronic shortage of houses lifted prices and kept first-time buyers out of the market.

The supply squeeze and rising mortgage interest rates are stoking fears of a lackluster spring selling season.

The second straight monthly drop in home sales reported by National Association of Realtors on Wednesday added to weak retail sales and industrial production in January in suggesting slower economic growth in the first quarter.

"There may be some headwinds ahead for home resales with rising mortgage costs affecting how much the buyer can afford and this could put a damper on existing home sales and take some of the wind out of the economy's sails," said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York.

Existing home sales dropped 3.2 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.38 million units last month, with purchases declining in all four regions.

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