Rising home prices signal ‘recovery,’ analysts sayU.S. home prices rose in September for the sixth straight month, despite seasonal weakness, signaling that the housing market is “in the midst of a recovery,” according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index released this week. The index that looks at 20 cities showed that prices have gained 3% over the past 12 months, echoing other recent positive housing data, such as gains in new construction and existing-home sales. However, despite recent increases, prices are about 30% below peak levels in 2006. And the housing market still faces challenges from shadow inventory, and tight credit standards.Read more about home prices.Sandy hits new-home sales Sales of new single-family homes in the U.S. ticked down in October, with a large drop in the hurricane-hit Northeast while there was a record surge in the Midwest, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce. By region, sales in October fell 32% in the Northeast and 12% in the South. Monthly sales rose a record 62% in the Midwest and 9% in the West. While the new-home-sales data are volatile on a monthly basis, a trend over the last few months has been steady, showing an average U.S. annualized rate of almost 370,000. That average rate is up 17% from a year earlier, but far below a peak rate of almost 1.4 million in 2005.Read more about new-home sales.Third-quarter growth revised higher, but…The government’s estimate for economic growth in the third quarter was revised higher this week, but the news wasn’t entirely rosy. A large portion of the higher estimate is due to inventories, which can be positive or negative. If these goods are sold soon, then the inventories were a good bet. If not, companies will have excess supply on their hands. Read more about GDP.Residential investment grows in third quarterThe economy’s expansion in the third quarter was also due, in part, to faster growth in the housing sector, government analysts said. In the third quarter, residential fixed investment grew at an annualized rate of 14.2%, compared with 8.5% in the second quarter. However, looking longer term, this sector has lost much of its heft. Residential fixed investment— which measures purchases of homes — currently accounts for about 2.5% of the economy, down from a bubble peak of more than 6% in 2005. Read more about GDP. Breakdown of GDP
After consumption was largely responsible for growth in the second quarter, there was a more evenly divided split between consumption, investment and government spending this time around. The big push behind government spending is a one-time boost in defense spending, so that is not likely to be sustained in the fourth quarter.