Pending Home Sales Edge Up in September

The National Association of Realtor’s Pending Home Sales Index, which is a forward-looking economic indicator based on contract signings (but not closings), inched upward to 105.0 in September from 104.7 in August, and is now 1 point higher than in September 2013, when it was 104.0.

The National Association of Realtor’s Pending Home Sales Index, which is a forward-looking economic indicator based on contract signings (but not closings), inched upward to 105.0 in September from 104.7 in August, and is now 1 point higher than in September 2013, when it was 104.0. The index is above 100 for the fifth consecutive month and is at its second-highest level since last September.

Despite improved housing conditions and low interest rates, tight credit conditions continue to be a barrier for some buyers, according to NAR. Of the reasons for not closing a sale, about 15 percent of Realtors in September reported having clients who couldn’t obtain financing as the reason for not closing.

Still, NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun notes that moderating price growth and sustained inventory levels are keeping conditions favorable for buyers. “Housing supply for existing homes was up in September 6 percent from a year ago, which is preventing prices from rising at the accelerated clip seen earlier this year,” he said. “Additionally, the current spectacularly low mortgage rates should help more buyers reach the market.”

Trucking growth flat

In another indirect indicator of U.S. economic health, the American Trucking Associations’ For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index was unchanged in September, following a gain of 1.6 percent the previous month. In September the index came in at 132.6 (2000 = 100), the same as in August and a record high.

Compared with September 2013, the index was up 3.7 percent, down from August’s 4.5 percent year-over-year gain. Year-to-date, compared with the same period last year, tonnage is up 3.2 percent, the Truckers note.

“September data was a mixed bag, with retail sales falling while factory output increased nicely,” ATA chief economist Bob Costello says. “As a result, I’m not too surprised that truck tonnage… remained unchanged.” He also notes that the third quarter average was the highest on record. Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 69.1 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 9.7 billion tons of freight in 2013.

Wall Street paused in its yo-yoing on Tuesday, ending the trading day barely mixed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 12.53 points, or 0.07 percent, while the Nasdaq gained 0.05 percent. The Nasdaq lost 0.15 percent.