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Markets & Finance

Vital Signs: Dog Days for Housing

The dog days of summer are here and the economic calendar is light. The lack of economic data means that economists and investors will pay extra attention to some key housing figures that are scheduled for release.

Both new and existing home data for July will come out and economists see sales holding at levels close to those in June. But figures could be a little softer than anticipated based on the home builders surveyed by the National Association of Home Builders.

The NAHB's monthly Housing Market Index kept on tumbling. The overall index stood at 32 for August, down from 39 in July and 42 in June. The component following single-family home sales plunged to 36 for August, from 43 in July.

What's more, the latest figures on housing starts came in especially weak, which means builders are reining in activity. That's a tangible measure of builders' pessimism (See, 8/15/06, "Housing Slump Hits Big in Some States").

Besides the sales figures, the markets will examine the weekly mortgage application figures to get a timelier gauge of demand. So far, the recent retreat in mortgage rates has only sparked increased demand for home refinancing. Applications for purchases have yet to budge.

Here is the economic calendar, from Action Economics.

Economic Reports

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