Bank Stocks Pull Back
The broad indices ended mixed, after the National Association of Realtors reported its pending home sales index declined by 0.4% to 104.8% in February, although the index was still 8.4% higher than a year earlier. Economists on average expected pending home sales for February to increase by 1% from January, according to Zacks. While it may seem strange after so many years of pressure on home prices from a glut of houses for sale, an inventory shortage has developed in many U.S. regions and is limiting sales, according to NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. The NAR report followed a report from CoreLogic on Tuesday, saying, shadow inventory -- distressed properties not yet listed for sale -- was declining sharply. "Only new home construction can genuinely help relieve the inventory shortage, and housing starts need to rise at least 50 percent from current levels," in order to bring inventories to normal levels, Yun said. "Most local home builders are small businesses and simply don't have access to capital on Wall Street," he said, adding that "clearer regulatory rules, applied to construction loans for smaller community banks and credit unions, could bring many small-sized builders back into the market."