Slowdown Evident in Commerce Reports

Airing more indications of a general economic slowdown, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported a drop in new home sales during January and a slump in new orders to manufacturers.

Sales of new one-family houses in January 2008 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 588,000, a drop of 2.8% from the revised December rate of 605,000 — and 33.9% below the January 2007 estimate of 890,000.

The fall in demand pushed the median sales price of new houses sold to $216,000; the average sales price was $276,600.

One year ago, the median sales price was $239,800 and the average was $313,000.

Meanwhile, Commerce said new orders for manufactured durable goods in January decreased $12.0 billion, or 5.3%, to $212.8 billion. This increased again the level of durable goods inventories: in January, inventories rose by $2.0 billion, or 0.6%, to $322.3 billion.

This inventory level is the highest since this statistical series was first stated in 1992.

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