February and March US retail sales were disappointing. Maybe everyone was saving up to buy a house?
“Soft” polling data suggest retail numbers may have been understated, but there is also news that home sales are up dramatically.
Bloomberg reports on Friday that existing home sales in the US rose in March to the highest level in ten years:
- “Contract closings jumped 4.4 percent to a 5.71 million annual rate (forecast was 5.60 million), the highest since February 2007, after a revised 5.47 million the prior month
- Median sales price rose 6.8 percent from a year earlier to $236,400
- Inventory of available properties fell 6.6 percent from March 2016 to 1.83 million, marking the 22nd straight year-over-year decline”
Yesterday Asia Unhedged argued that US government data underestimated retail sales. The discrepancy between “soft” data such as the Gallup consumer spending survey and the Commerce Department’s retail sales estimates is so large that the truth probably lies somewhat to the north of the “hard” data.