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Sales Of Existing Homes Hit 7-Year High In 2013

We updated the top of this post at 10:30 a.m. ET.

The evidence that the housing sector has bounced back from the deep slump it sank into starting in 2007 was reinforced Thursday morning with word from the National Association of Realtors that:

"Existing-home sales edged up in December, sales for all of 2013 were the highest since 2006, and median prices maintained strong growth. ...

"For all of 2013, there were 5.09 million sales, which is 9.1 percent higher than 2012. It was the strongest performance since 2006 when sales reached an unsustainably high 6.48 million at the close of the housing boom."

In other news, the private Conference Board said Thursday that its index of leading indicators edged up 0.1 percent in December. That barometer "continues to point to gradually strengthening economic conditions through early 2014," Ataman Ozyildirim, an economist at the research organization, said in a statement.

Our original post — "More Steady-As-She-Goes News In Latest Jobless Claims Data" — focused on the day's earlier economic news:

We could just copy and paste last week's post about jobless claims.

But we'll do a bit more.

The Employment and Training Administration said Thursday that there were 326,000 first-time claims filed for unemployment insurance last week, up just 1,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 325,000.

That means, as we said a week ago, that claims once again held steady around the level where they were typically running before December 2007, when the economy slipped into its latest recession. During that recession, which officially ended in June 2009, claims spiked as high as 670,000 one week in March 2009.

Due later this morning: Figures on sales of existing homes in December; and the latest index of leading economic indicators.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.

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