American unemployment easing but August home sales worse than hoped

FEWER Americans filed new claims for jobless benefits last week compared to the previous week, but sales of previously owned homes in the US unexpectedly fell in August, disappointing both analysts and the markets yesterday and indicating that the recovery will be slow.<br /><br />Figures from the US Labor department showed yesterday that new claims for benefits fell by 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 530,000, compared to an expected rise to&nbsp; 550,000.<br /><br />But the US National Association of Realtors (NAR) said that existing home sales in August dropped to 5.1m from 5.24m the previous month, upsetting analysts&rsquo; predictions of a rise to 5.35m. <br /><br />But analysts were confident that the fall was a temporary blip rather than renewed weakness. Demand is being supported by the fall in mortgage rates below five per cent. <br /><br />US stocks sank on the worse-than-expected data and on the news that three major central banks, including the Bank of England, intend to discontinue some of their dollar purchases. <br />