From Bloomberg BusinessWeek
Anna Piretti, BNP Paribas
U.S. new home sales plunged by 11.2% month-over-month in January to 309,000 annualized units, falling well below a previous historical low of 329,000 reached at the beginning of 2009. After showing some signs of life in the spring of 2009, new home sales steadily worsened over the second half of last year, dropping five times over the past six months. The dreadful January report appears somewhat at odds with the recent mild improvement recorded by the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, suggesting the minor firming in sentiment did not translate into a pickup in the hard data.Gary Bigg, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Mortgage applications have now fallen for three consecutive weeks. After declining 1.2% and 2.1% in the prior two weeks, mortgage loan applications dropped 8.5% for the week ended Feb. 19. No doubt [major February snowstorms] had an adverse impact on applications. Applications for refinancing fell 8.9% in the latest week. Purchase applications have now fallen for three consecutive weeks. After posting declines of 7.0% and 4.0% in the prior two weeks, mortgage applications for purchase tumbled 7.3% in the latest week.http://www.businessweek.com/investor/content/feb2010/pi20100224_872977.htm
The index for purchase applications has now fallen to 1997 levels. The contract rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose 9 basis points to 5.03%.