Home sales figure falls by biggest margin since 2010; Macy's braces for big losses

Sales of existing homes plunge in April

WASHINGTON — Sales of existing home plunged 17.8 percent in April with the real estate market still in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that last month's decline pushed sales down to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.33 million units, the slowest pace since September 2011.

The sales drop was the largest one-month decline since a 22.5 percent fall in July 2010. That tail-off was preceded by the end a congressionally approved tax credit intended pull the housing market out of the 2006 collapse of the housing market.

The median price for a home sold in April was $286,800, which was an increase of 7.4 percent from a year ago. Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the association, attributed the big jump in the median price to a lack of enough homes for sale, especially for first-time buyers.

Sales were down in all parts of the country with the West seeing a 25 percent drop. Sales in the Northeast fell 16.9 percent. Sales were down 17.9 percent in the South and down 12 percent in the Midwest.

Virus could push Macy's losses past $1B

NEW YORK — Macy's is warning that it could lose more than a $1 billion during its first fiscal quarter after the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed retail operations nationwide.

Sales, the New York department store said in a preliminary report Thursday, could plummet to around $3 billion, down 45% from the $5.5 billion in sales booked just a year ago.

The company said it would likely swing to a quarterly loss of between $905,000 and $1.1 billion. Macy's had a profit of $203 million in last year's first quarter, which ends on May 2.

Macy's closed all stores in mid-March and furloughed a majority of its workers. It began to reopen its stores early this month and about 190 Macy's and Bloomingdale's locations were operating in one form or another as of this week. Curbside pickup is what is available at many stores.

CEO Jeff Gennette said customer demand has been moderately higher than anticipated in the two weeks since the company began reopening stores. Earlier this month, Gennette said that he expected the reopened stores would generate less than 20 percent of their typical activity.

Mortgage rates ease; 30-year at 3.24%

WASHINGTON — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates eased this week in a housing market battered by the shutdown spurred by the coronavirus pandemic. Rates hovered near all-time lows as the benchmark 30-year home loan stayed below 3.30 percent for the fourth straight week.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year loan declined to 3.24% from 3.28 percent last week. A year ago, the rate stood at 4.06 percent.

The average rate on the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage slipped to 2.70 percent from 2.72 percent last week.

Sales of existing homes plunged 17.8 percent in April to a 4.33 million rate, the slowest pace since 2011, the National Association of Realtors reported Thursday. The normally busy spring home-buying season has been upended. At the same time, however, home prices have been rising.

Exports from Japan tumble by 22%

TOKYO — Japan’s exports plunged nearly 22 percent in April, marking the worst drop in a decade.

The value of outbound goods totaled $48 billion for the month. The Finance Ministry said imports fell 7 percent to the equivalent of $57 billion.

By sector, exports were lower in vehicles, machinery, chemicals and textiles. Imports edged down in iron and steel products, fish, cereal and computer parts. The drop in exports is the worst since the financial crisis more than 10 years ago.

Wire reports

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