Existing Home Sales Drop in November; UN Predicts Better Global Growth in ’14; Initial Unemployment Claims Up

Total existing home sales dropped 4.3 percent in November compared with October. The United Nations is optimistic about 2014, predicting economic growth to rise steadily. Yet initial unemployment claims increased by 10,000 from the previous week.

The National Association of Realtors reported on Thursday total U.S. existing home sales, including single-family as well as condos and co-ops, dropped 4.3 percent in November compared with October, down to an annualized rate of 4.9 million units. Year over year, the rate dropped 1.2 percent, which was the first time in more than two years that it went down on an annual basis.

Total housing inventory at the end of November declined 0.9 percent to 2.09 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 5.1-month supply at the current sales pace, compared with 4.9 months in October. Unsold inventory is 5 percent above a year ago, when there was a 4.8-month supply, according to NAR.

Prices still have some upward momentum, the organization said. The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $196,300 in November, up 9.4 percent from a year earlier. Distressed homes – foreclosures and short sales – accounted for 14 percent of November sales, unchanged from October; they were 22 percent in November 2012. A smaller share of distressed sales is contributing to price growth.

UN Predicts Better Global Growth in ’14

In its annual report about the world economy, which was released this week, the United Nations said that economic growth worldwide would only be 2.1 percent in 2013, but the transnational organization was more optimistic about 2014 and ’15. For those years, the U.N. predicts that growth will be 3 percent and then 3.3 percent, respectively.

The report, called World Economic Situation and Prospects 2014, asserted that the lengthy recession in the eurozone was finally going to end, the U.S. economy would continue to strengthen, and China and India would also experience better growth after recent lackluster years.

The American economy will grow 2.5 percent next year, the report predicts, while both the EU and Japan will achieve 1.5 percent growth. China’s economy will grow by 7.5 percent, while India will be up 5 percent, and Russia will see a 2.9 percent expansion.

Initial Unemployment Claims Up

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that for the week ending Dec. 14, initial unemployment claims came in at an annualized 379,000, an increase of 10,000 from the previous week. The less jumpy four-week moving average actually jumped a more: it came it at 343,500, an increase of 13,250 from the previous week.

Wall Street had a lackluster day on Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining a scant 11.11 points, or 0.07 percent. The S&P 500 lost 0.06 percent and the Nasdaq was down 0.29 percent.