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Existing home sales in the US rose 9.4% in September, the largest gain on records dating back to 1999. Economists polled by Bloomberg had expected the measure to rise 4.9%, following a fall of 2.7% in August. Total monthly sales rose to 5.57 million on an annualized basis, the highest figure since July 2007, as consumers purchased on government incentives including an $8,000 tax credit for first time home buyers (set to expire at the end of November). Also aiding demand were mortgage rates that were in the lowest since May. The Mortgage Bankers Assocation weekly index showed rates on 30-year mortgages below five percent for much of the month. Specific components of the release showed a near equal gain in sales of co-op/condos and single family homes, while the month's supply of housing continued to decline as sales improved and supply fell to the lowest in at least seven months. While the sector continues to improve, house prices actually posted a decline for the third consecutive month, a negative for banks with significant exposure along with home builders.

Reaction to the release has been slight at best with equities in the US trading lower by nearly half a percent following a higher open on strong earnings reports from several major firms including Microsoft and Amazon, up more than 7% and 20% respectively. Energy commodities are trading lower by over one percent, while the greenback appreciates slightly against its primary crosses.

Annualized Existing Home Sales ChartHH10-23-09