Several data points on the U.S. housing sector scheduled to be released Wednesday are expected to provide further indications of the economy's growing strength as well as clues to the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision on interest rates when it meets in December.
New home sales likely picked up in October after a steep drop in September, a government report is expected to show. Economists expect a 6.8 percent increase to 500,000 homes in the U.S. Census Bureau's report, the Wall Street Journal reported. That compares with an 11.5 percent drop to 468,000 in September. Wednesday's data will follow the release of October existing-home sales numbers -- which were released Monday and also showed a drop.
Economists believe the declines are due to rising prices rather than any weakness in the economy. On Tuesday, the widely-watched S&P/Case-Schiller Home Price data showed prices rose 4.9 percent in September from a year before, compared with 4.6 percent in August. With home prices rising at about twice the pace of incomes, potential buyers, especially younger Americans, are being priced out of the market, the Journal cited economists as saying.
Also on Tuesday, the government revised upward its estimate for third-quarter GDP growth to 2.1 percent, from the 1.5 percent estimate it gave last month.
Other data on home prices are also scheduled to be released Wednesday, including the Federal Housing Finance Agency's September report, and the weekly report on initial jobless claims. There will be two more jobless claims reports before the Fed holds its last policy meeting on Dec. 15-16.
Since the last meeting at the end of October, the Fed and its officials have sent strong signals that they will raise interest rates for the first time in nine years in December, citing improved employment data as a key indicator of the economy's strength and its ability to absorb a rate hike.