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Existing Home Sales Dip, But Prices Rise

Update at 10:30 a.m. ET: The day's second major economic indicator is another good news/bad news report.

The good news is that prices of existing homes continue to rise, the National Association of Realtors says.

"The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $196,300 in November, up 9.4 percent from November 2012," according to NAR.

But the bad news is that sales of existing homes fell 4.3 percent in November from October and were down 1.2 percent from the pace of November 2012. "This is the first time in 29 months that sales were below year-ago levels," NAR says.

In the group's report, NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun says home sales are being hurt "by higher mortgage interest rates, constrained inventory and continuing tight credit." But he sees "pent-up demand" that should help support the housing sector in coming months.

MarketWatch says another reason for the sales slowdown in November is that "buyers rushed over the summer to lock in low mortgage rates."

Earlier, as we reported, there was mixed news about the labor market.

Our original post — "Jobless Claims Rose Last Week, But Trend May Still Be Good":

There were 379,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance filed last week, up 10,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration reported Thursday.

This means the data on claims have now run counter to other economic indicators for two weeks in a row. While most other signs have recently been positive, the number of claims has jumped from 305,000 in the week ended Nov. 30 to 369,000 the next week and now 379,000.

Reuters says the news is "casting a shadow on the labor market." But the wire service adds that "claims data continue to be plagued by seasonal volatility. Other labor market indicators have pointed to a strengthening in job growth."

Bloomberg News says the spike may just reflect "fluctuation in the filings that typically occurs around the year-end holidays."

There's other economic news due later this morning, including the National Association of Realtors' report on sales of existing homes in November. We'll update with highlights.

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