Reuters falls back on its favorite adverb when delivering bad economic news, in one of the most expected events in economic journalism:
Sales of newly built U.S. single-family homes fell unexpectedly in December, data showed on Wednesday, the latest indication that the government-led housing recovery might be losing some steam.
The Commerce Department said sales fell 7.6 percent to a 342,000 unit annual rate from an upwardly revised 370,000 units in November. It was the second straight month that new home sales declined.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected new home sales to increase to a 370,000 unit annual pace from November’s previously reported 355,000 units.
U.S. stock indexes fell on the data, while government bond prices held at higher levels.
“This isn’t good news. It should put some pressure on the market, especially coming after the disappointing outlooks we saw,” said Dan Cook, senior market analyst at IG Markets in Chicago.
How “unexpected” could this possibly be? In the last four weeks. we’ve learned that:
- US “unexpectedly” lost 85,000 jobs in December
- Overall home sales “unexpectedly” dropped 16% in November
- Foreclosures rose “unexpectedly”
- New housing starts fell “unexpectedly” in December
- Builder sentiment “unexpectedly” fell this month
- Home resales “unexpectedly” plunged in December faster than ever before
Honestly, considering all of these other indicators, a rise in new-home sales would have been flabbergasting. People aren’t buying because earlier stimulus incentives expired and sped up buying decisions that would have been otherwise made this year. More people are unemployed, which means they can’t afford to buy anything and can’t qualify for mortgages. They’re not buying new homes when people are desperate to unload resales and foreclosures.
Maybe the media should revisit some of their assumptions in order to get their expectations in order and common sense back in their reporting.