The housing sector may be climbing up from the bottom but if so, it looks like the climb is slow. Pending sales of existing homes rose 3.5 percent in November, a respectable rate yet well below the 10.1 percent jump in October that ended a run of declines (October initially reported at plus 10.4 percent). November's gain also doesn't show any breadth. The key region, the South, shows a small decline with the Midwest showing a more sizable decline. The Northeast shows a small increase while the West, the smallest and most volatile region, shows a big jump.
Pending home sales, which are based on contract signings, offer indications on future sales of existing homes, which are based on closings. Today's report does point to a gain for existing homes sales, which jumped 5.6 percent in November, yet it points to a slowing gain. Affordability and still low rates are positives for the housing market where however foreclosures and soft labor conditions still pose major risks.