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From Home Furnishing Business

Housing Sales, Consumer Confidence Decline

By Home Furnishings Business in on April 2007 The National Association of Retailers, Washington, blamed bad February weather for an 11.4 percent drop in March sales of existing homes from a year ago. March sales were 8.4 percent lower than in February, which translates into the slowest sales pace in three years€”a seasonally adjusted sales rate of 6.12 million units.

David Lereah, NAR€™s chief economist, said he expected the decline.  €œFor the last couple months we€™ve been expecting a weather €˜hit€™ on home sales finalized in March, but looking at overall activity in the first quarter we see that existing home sales averaged 6.41 million €“ a figure that is moderately higher than the sales pace during the second half of 2006,€ he said.  €œWe also may be seeing some losses as a result of the subprime fallout.  However, this is masking improved fundamentals in the housing market, with lower mortgage interest rates and motivated sellers.€

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $217,000 in March, which is 0.3 percent below March 2006.

Also, on Tuesday, The Conference Board€™s newest Consumer Confidence Index for April dropped to 104, the lowest level since it declined to 100.2 in August. April€™s reading was down from 108.2 in March and was slightly lower than the 105 many analysts had expected.

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