New home sales in March rose 1.5% percent to an annualized pace of 417,000, after a 4.6% drop in February. Both months followed a strong 13.1 percent jump in January.
But this number, after yesterday's drop in existing home sales, is likely being veiwed as a slower than expected pace of growth. Consensus was for 419k, and the rise above last month's reading was an easy comparable.
Part of the interesting dynamic here for slower sales actually has to do with lower supply. That's not exactly a bearish sign for the housing market. Here's a paragraph from Bloomberg this morning that sums up the issue...
"Low supply, the result of tight credit and supply chain constraints in the residential construction sector, continues to hold down sales. The number of homes on the market did rise but only by a slight 3,000 to 153,000, and the gain isn't enough to improve the month's supply which is unchanged at 4.4 months. This level of supply is consistent with a strong housing market such as the big bubble days of 2005, not with a slow market like today."
Bottom line: The cycle trough for today's data was around the 300k mark in late 2010/early 2011. Sustaining above 400k means the trend of housing prices and sales is still headed "up and to the right." This seems like good sailing wind for economic and consumer momentum in the next 6-18 months.
And this just in: word is that Barclays has upgraded the whole home builder sector. Those stocks are definitly bid this morning.