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US pending home sales trended higher before virus outbreak

Monday, March 30, 2020 | Josh Boak, AP Economics Writer


In this Feb. 20, 2020 file photo, a "For Sale" sign stands in front of a newly constructed home in Londonderry, N.H. U.S. home sales retreated 1.3% in January from the prior month, but low mortgage rates helped enable an increase in purchases from a year ago. Americans signed more contracts in February to buy homes, but the gains are likely relics of a moment before the coronavirus outbreak sent the U.S. economy spiraling into a likely recession. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

BALTIMORE (AP) — Americans signed more contracts in February to buy homes, but the gains are likely relics of a moment before the coronavirus outbreak sent the U.S. economy spiraling into a likely recession.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its pending home sales index, which measures the numbers of purchase contracts signed, rose 2.4% in February from the prior month to 111.5. Lower mortgage rates were enticing more people to buy homes, such that pending sales had climbed 9.4% over the past 12 months.

But the outlook has deteriorated rapidly over the past month, as millions of Americans are losing their jobs and monthly rental and mortgage payments are becoming difficult to manage.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said that applications last week for home purchase loans had fallen 11% from a year ago.


5 Travel Company Stocks Likely to Suffer From the Coronavirus

How important is the global travel and tourism industry? It’s a sector that accounts for about 10% of the world’s adult workforce. That’s 350 million people. The industry also accounts for at least 4% of the global gross domestic product (GDP).

In short, it’s an industry that accounts for trillions of dollars for the economy. And it relies on the most visible workers like pilots and cruise ship captains to the kitchen and housecleaning staff and servers. The travel industry is in many ways a service industry. But when there’s nobody to service, these businesses take a tumble.

And tumble it has. The world is going through a period of enforced social distancing. Many countries are taking even more extreme measures to lock down parts, or all, of their countries in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus and to flatten the curve to prevent healthcare workers and hospitals from being overwhelmed.

But that means fewer people are flying. Planned vacations are being canceled. And all of this is bad news for a sector that relies on the mobility of global travelers.

To be fair, the best of these companies should recover just fine. However, some of these companies had fundamental concerns that will be magnified by the loss of revenue.

View the "5 Travel Company Stocks Likely to Suffer From the Coronavirus".

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