Pending home sales inch up in December
* Sales rose 1% between November and December. That was right in line with what economists were expecting.
* At 96.6, the index was up 10.9% from the year-ago level of 87.1.
* By region, pending sales were broadly higher. They climbed 2.2% in the South, 2.3% in the Northeast, and 5.2% in the Midwest. Sales fell 3.8% in the West.
The pending sales index stabilized at the end of 2009. That potentially sets the stage for a more positive spring selling season. Indeed, with mortgage rates low, house prices down, and the supply of homes for sale steadily falling, it's easy to see why the market should stabilize.
At the same time, we lack a catalyst for a vigorous recovery. Unemployment remains a problem and the housing market is still dealing with the "hangover effect" from the bubble -- too much foreclosure inventory, tighter lending standards, and so on. The result? We'll likely just muddle through instead of witness a V-shaped recovery like those that followed previous housing busts.