New U.S. home sales dipped slightly last month, in another sign that the housing market recovery is likely to be gradual and prolonged. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that sales edged down 0.6 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 342,000, from a downwardly revised April rate of 344,000. The results fell far short of economists’ forecast, but many analysts think new home sales hit bottom in January and will rise gradually as the economy gathers steam. The median sales price last month rose 4.2 percent from April to $221,600, but that’s still 3.4 percent below year-ago levels. “The housing market may be starting to come back, but the improvement is hardly a tsunami,” wrote Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors. Sales of previously occupied homes crept up 2.4 percent in May, the third monthly gain this year, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday. There appears to be a strong consensus that existing home sales have hit bottom, but prices will continue to fall because rising unemployment is forcing more homeowners into foreclosure. The housing crisis, which started in late 2006, triggered a global financial meltdown that pushed the U.S. economy into a recession… Read full this story
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