Housing Data Damaging Consumer Hope in the Economy

New York–Signs of weakness in the U.S. housing data due this week–along with consumers’ reduced faith in the financial markets–could lessen consumer confidence, the Financial Times reports.On Tuesday, the S&P/Case-Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas–published monthly by New York-based Standard & Poor’s–is expected to reveal home prices have dropped further, possibly falling from 9.1 percent in December to 10.5 percent last month. The National Association of Realtors report released Monday showed that home sales had fared better than was expected, rising in February. Analysts had forecast home sales would drop from 4.89 million in January to 4.85 million.However, on Wednesday, new home sales data is due that may show sales fell from 588,000 in January to 576,000 in February.The dour housing market news already has weighed on consumer confidence. Thus, the forecast for the Conference Board consumer confidence index–due Tuesday–is for a drop from 75 in February–the lowest level in years–to 74 this month. If confidence continues to fall, consumer spending is expected to slow as a result.