Dollar rises on strong U.S. home sales data
The dollar rose against most major currencies on Tuesday as U.S. existing home sales in November rose to the highest level in 33 months.
Existing home sales jumped 7.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.54 million units in November from 6.09 million in October, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The sales are 44.1 percent higher than the 4.54 million unit pace in November 2008, Xinhua reported.
Existing condominium and co-op sales in November were unchanged, while single family sales rose 8.5 percent. All four regions of the nation posted solid gains. The median existing home price was down 4.3 percent year-on-year, and the average price was off 3.0 percent year-on-year.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the rise was expected. "This clearly is a rush of first-time buyers not wanting to miss out on the tax credit, but there are many more potential buyers who can enter the market in the months ahead," he said.
The government home buying tax credit, which was set to expire on Nov. 30, was expanded into next year. Analysts expect that another surge of home sales will come in the spring after a temporary drop in December.
The third quarter growth of U.S. gross domestic product was revised down to 2.2 percent from a previous estimate of 2.8 percent, the Commerce Department reported. However, most analysts are still optimistic about economic growth in the fourth quarter, expecting a growth rate of 4 percent.
Moody's Investors Service on Tuesday downgraded Greece's credit rating from A1 to A2. It was the third major rating agency to downgrade Greek government bonds in recent weeks.
Besides Greece, Ireland, Spain and Portugal also face scrutiny in bond markets. Worries about eurozone government debt levels drove the euro lower.
The euro bought 1.4254 dollars in late New York trading compared with 1.4289 dollars it bought late Monday. The pound fell to 1.5967 dollars from 1.6052 dollars.
The dollar fell to 1.0557 Canadian dollars from 1.0617 Canadian dollars, and rose to 1.0481 Swiss francs from 1.0457 Swiss francs. It rose to 91.79 Japanese yen from 91.15 Japanese yen.