New home sales at seven-month low; manufacturing stabilizes

Fri Jul 24, 2015 10:46am EDT
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New U.S. single-family home sales fell in June to their lowest level in seven months and May's sales were revised sharply lower, in what appeared to be a minor setback for the housing market recovery.

Other data on Friday showed manufacturing activity nudged up in July after slowing for three straight months.

New home sales dropped 6.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 482,000 units, the lowest level since last November, the Commerce Department said. May's sales pace was revised down to 517,000 units from the previously reported 546,000 units.

"You never want to see the data regress, but we remain optimistic that we're still on a long-term upward trajectory," said Tom Wind, vice president of home lending at EverBank in Jacksonville, Florida.

Economists had forecast new home sales, which account for 8.1 percent of the market, to be unchanged last month. Sales were up 18.1 percent compared to June of last year.

Prices for U.S. government debt rose after the data and the dollar pared gains against a basket of currencies. U.S. stock indexes were trading lower.

Despite two straight months of declines in new home sales, the overall housing market recovery remains intact.

Housing is being supported by a tightening labor market, which has unleashed demand from young adults. Steps by the government to ease lending conditions for first-time buyers through mortgage finance firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also are helping.

A report on Wednesday showed home resales jumped to a more than eight-year high in June. Data last week showed building permits near an eight-year peak in June and housing starts increasing solidly.   Continued...

A home for sale sign hangs in front of a house in Oakton, on the day the National Association of Realtors issues its Pending Home Sales for February report, in Virginia March 27, 2014.  REUTERS/Larry Downing