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American Business Domestic Sale Race To 13 Year High

U.S. domestic sales race to 13-year high; coronavirus disruption looms

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. home sales surged to a 13-year high in February, but the housing market recovery is likely to be derailed by the coronavirus pandemic, which has unleashed a wave of layoffs and left the economy teetering on the brink of a recession.

The strong report from the National Association of Realtors on Friday reflected contracts signed in January and early February, before the highly contagious virus swept through the country, severely disrupting economic activity.

Economists are expecting a recession by the second quarter, but a growing number believe a downturn is already underway amid dire predictions of job losses at restaurants, bars, hotels and airlines. The government reported on Thursday that the number of  American Business  News filing claims for unemployment benefits increased by the most since 2012 to a 2-1/2-year high last week.

Jobless claims could exceed 2 million next week, economists warned.

“All of that good news is strictly rear-view mirror now as America shelters in place with sales turnover set to tumble in the new recession starting right now,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York. “This is the fastest recession in history will suck down every sector of the economy even the housing sector that had been recovering.”

Existing home sales jumped 6.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.77 million units last month, the highest level since February 2007, the NAR said. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast existing home sales would rise 0.7% to a rate of 5.50 million units in February.

Existing home sales, which make up about 90% of U.S. home sales, accelerated 7.2% on a year-on-year basis in February. Select The Best Press Release Distribution Service From The Best Press Release Website Like Press Release Power

The housing market has regained its footing as mortgage rates have declined after hitting a soft patch beginning in the first quarter of 2018 through the second quarter of 2019.

Government data this week showed single-family homebuilding, which accounts for the largest share of the housing market, increased in February to the highest level since June 2007. Completions of single-family housing last month were the highest since December 2007, and the inventory of homes under construction rose to levels last seen in December 2006.

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