Monday, March 23, 2009

February existing home sales rise by 5.1 percent

PMZ Real Estate Agent Michelle Zeiter, left, walks into a bank owned home she isMarch 23, 2009
By ALAN ZIBEL, AP Real Estate Writer

WASHINGTON – Sales of previously occupied homes jumped unexpectedly in February by the largest amount in nearly six years as first-time buyers took advantage of deep discounts on foreclosures and other distressed properties.

Economists said sales, while still at levels not seen since 1997, may finally be coming back to life after declining sharply following the stock market plunge last autumn.

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Stocks jump on bank plan, rise in home sales

Michael J. Sollitto, Specialist for Banc of America, and Traders work on the By TIM PARADIS, AP Business Writer

NEW YORK – Wall Street is getting the good news it wants on the economy's biggest problems: banks and housing.

Investors reignited a two-week rally Monday after hearing the government's plan to help banks remove as much as $1 trillion in bad assets from their books and home sales showed a surprise increase. Major stock indexes jumped as much as 4 percent, including the Dow Jones industrial average, which rose nearly 300 points.

The Treasury Department said its plan would rely on the government's $700 billion financial rescue fund, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., as well as private investors.

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