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Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - Patrick Newport
Consumer confidence soared to a five-year high this month as an improving job market and double-digit gains in home prices lifted consumer spirits, according to a survey released Tuesday.
Housing has emerged as the brightest spot in the economy this year, but some analysts are questioning whether the market's recovery is built to last.
From purchases and prices to builder sentiment and construction, the U.S. housing market is making consistent gains.
U.S. builders started construction on homes in September at the fastest rate since July 2008 and made plans to build even more homes in the coming months. The gains show the housing recovery is strengthening and could help the economy grow.
Consumer confidence perked up this month while home prices posted their third straight month of gains in the latest signs that the economy continues to slowly but steadily improve.
A rush of good news suggesting that economic growth is picking up speed sent the stock market soaring Tuesday.
Stuck with a glacial pace of economic recovery and little likelihood that Congress will approve more stimulus, the White House has been resorting to some unconventional measures to try to boost growth.
An index of home prices in big metropolitan areas has reached its lowest level since 2002, driven down by foreclosures, a glut of unsold homes, and the reluctance or inability of many to buy.
Home prices rose in May for the second straight month as federal tax incentives pulled more buyers into the market.
On the housing front, the S&P/Case-Shiller price index for March "was the strongest in years," said Patrick Newport, an economist at IHS Global Insight, noting that prices were up for four months in a row in all 20 major U.S. cities, and 12 cities posted double-digit gains.
"As prices go up, more homeowners will list their homes, which will reduce the shortages somewhat. Eliminating the shortage, however, will require new construction," he said.