For the “dismal science” of economic forecasting, April 24 was one of the most dismal days in memory. Before that day, the consensus forecast among 60 leading economists for March existing homes sales was 6.45 million (seasonally adjusted annual rate), with none of them predicting a rate below 6.2 million. On that day, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released data reporting sales of 6.12 million, for a 13% year-over-year (YOY) decline.

In published comments, several economists called the unexpected March decline a cyclical bottom in housing. On CNBC, analysts interpreted it as clear evidence that the subprime problem had been contained, and they encouraged investors to buy stocks of homebuilders.

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