WASHINGTON (AP) — Sales of previously occupied homes fell in December for the first time in four months as many would-be buyers were frustrated by a lack of available houses, which fell to the lowest level in more than two decades.
Existing home sales dropped 4.6% last month from November, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of nearly 6.2 million, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday.
The demand for homes remains healthy, the group said, with median prices jumping nearly 16% from a year ago to $358,000. Homes sold in an average of 19 days, slightly higher than in the summer but still quite rapid. Yet the number of houses for sale slumped to just 910,000 in December, the fewest since records began in 1999.
Even with the December decline, it has been a healthy year for home sales. Annual sales reached 6.1 million in 2021, the National Association of Realtors said, up 8.5% from 2020 and the most since 2006, the height of the housing bubble that crashed the following year.
Sales soared after pandemic lockdowns ended and many Americans sought more space for indoor offices and online schooling. Healthy home-buying was also fueled by strong job and income gains.
With the Federal Reserve set to raise interest rates as soon as March, home sales are expected to decline slightly this year, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors.
Mortgage rates started to rise sharply in late December, after last month’s sales were mostly completed. The anticipation of higher borrowing costs likely drove home purchases higher in the fall. The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage reached nearly 3.6% this week, the highest since March 2020 and up from 3.05% a month ago.
7 Manufacturing Stocks That Will Overcome Current Difficulties
The manufacturing industry was one of the hardest hits in 2020. In the initial months of the coronavirus pandemic, many companies were forced to shutter operations. However, opportunistic investors kept their eye on several of these companies as recovery stocks. And at the beginning of 2021, the emergence of several vaccines allowed businesses to reopen. Not surprisingly, manufacturing stocks were among the biggest winners.
But where are these stocks headed in 2022? In December, American manufacturers reported their slowest pace of growth in 11 months. A closely followed index of U.S.-based manufacturers dropped to 58.7% in the final month of 2021. This was slightly lower than the 61.1% in November according to the Institute for Supply Management.
Still, any number of above 50% signals expansion. And the number is only slightly below the 60% level that signifies exceptional growth.
Ironically, it’s the virus that continues to provide a headwind. Supply chains are unwinding but not nearly fast enough to prevent material shortages. The controversy surrounding vaccine mandates is causing labor shortages.
However, there’s a strong likelihood that manufacturing stocks will have a strong year in 2022. And even if they don’t, many of these stocks pay a reliable dividend. That’s why we’ve put together this special presentation on the manufacturing stocks that will overcome current difficulties.
View the “7 Manufacturing Stocks That Will Overcome Current Difficulties”.