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U.S. existing home sales rise, economic growth picks-up

Staff Writer |
Sales of U.S. existing homes rose more than expected in March, according to data from the National Association of Realtors.

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Sales were up 1.1% to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.60m from 5.54m in February. Despite the increase, sales were still down 1.2% compared to a year ago.

Meanwhile, the median price of an existing home was $250,400, up 5.8% from March 2017 and marking the 73rd straight month of year-over-year gains.

Total housing inventory at the of March was up 5.7% to 1.67m existing home sales available for sale, but was still 7.2% lower than a year ago and down year-over-year for 34 consecutive months.

Existing home sales in the Northeast rose 6.3% to an annual rate of 680,000, while sales in the Midwest were 5.7% higher at 1.29m. In the South, sales were down 0.4% to 2.40m and in the West, existing home sales were down 3.1% to an annual rate of 1.23m.

Factory and service sector activity in the States picked-up noticeably in May, according to the results of two widely-followed surveys, which some economists said pointed towards scope for positive surprises on the growth front in the the near-term.

IHS Markit's composite U.S. purchasing managers' index, which combines survey findings for both those sectors, jumped from a reading of 54.2 for March to 54.8 in April .

Within that, the survey compiler's factory sector PMI jumped from 55.6 to 56.5 (consensus: 55.0), to reach a 43-month high.

The services sector PMI also strengthened, rising from 54.0 to 54.4 - a two-month high.

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