Stubborn Jobless Claims Still Keep On Climbing Higher
New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly climbed to 424,000 last week from a revised 414,000 in the prior week, pointing to a painfully slow improvement in the nation's job markets.
The Labor Department on Thursday revised the prior week's claims number up from an originally reported 409,000.
Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast that claims last week would decline to 400,000, rather than rise.
The four-week moving average of unemployment claims, considered a better measure of trends since it smoothes out weekly variations, eased slightly to 438,500 from a revised 440,250.
Last week marked the seventh straight week in which claims topped the 400,000 level, indicating that payroll growth is soft and may continue to be so for some time. A department official said there were no exceptional factors to account for the rise in last week's claims.
Foreclosure Homes Account for 28 Percent of Q1 2011 Sales
IRVINE, Calif. – May 26, 2011 — RealtyTrac® (http://www.realtytrac.com/gateway_co.asp?accnt=137300), the leading online marketplace for foreclosure properties, today released its Q1 2011 U.S. Foreclosure Sales Report™, which shows that sales of bank-owned homes and those in some stage of foreclosure accounted for 28 percent of all U.S. residential sales in the first quarter of 2011, up slightly from 27 percent of all sales in the fourth quarter of 2010 and the highest percentage of sales since the first quarter of 2010, when 29 percent of all sales were foreclosure sales.
The average sales price of properties in some stage of foreclosure — default, scheduled for auction or bank-owned (REO) — was $168,321, down 1.89 percent from the fourth quarter of 2010 and down 1.46 percent from the first quarter of 2010.
The average sales price of foreclosure properties was nearly 27 percent below the average sales price of properties not in foreclosure, unchanged from the 27 percent foreclosure discount in the fourth quarter and up slightly from the 26 percent foreclosure discount in the first quarter of 2010.
Third parties purchased a total of 158,434 U.S. bank-owned homes and those in some stage of foreclosure during the first quarter, a decrease of 16 percent from a revised fourth quarter total and down 36 percent from a revised Q1 2010 total. Bank-owned properties that sold in the first quarter had been repossessed by the bank an average of 176 days prior to the sale, while properties that sold in the earlier stages of foreclosure in the first quarter were in foreclosure an average of 228 days before selling.
“While foreclosure sales continue to account for an unusually high percentage of all residential home sales, sales volume is well off the peak we saw in the first quarter of 2009, when nearly 350,000 foreclosure properties sold to third parties,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. “While this is probably helping to keep home prices relatively stable, it is also delaying the housing recovery. At the first quarter foreclosure sales pace, it would take exactly three years to clear the current inventory of 1.9 million properties already on the banks’ books, or in foreclosure.”the rest