Sales of new single-family homes surprisingly slid to an eight-month low in March, falling 14.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted 384,000, when economists polled by Reuters had expected to see a reading of 450,000. And although the S&P 500 dipped slightly on the 10 a.m. ET report, many traders were confused about why stocks weren't hurt more.
"I am surprised that the market wasn't hurt by that awful home sales number," wrote Jim Iuorio of TJM Institutional Services. "It has to be that the market needs a couple more numbers to erase the positive vibe, or that the Yellen 'put' is still in play. Either way, it is strange."
The home sales number seems to challenge the idea that all the softness evident in first-quarter data was due to harsh winter weather. Indeed, one noteworthy aspect of the report is that the weakness was evident throughout the country, with month-over-month declines reported in the West, the Midwest, and the South (sales in the Northeast increased slightly).
Noting that the report was "free of weather excuses," Peter Boockvar of the Lindsey Group commented in a note that "the U.S. recovery remains in fits and starts."
Still, not everyone sees it that way. "I am not concerned in the least," Carl Riccadonna, senior U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank, told CNBC.com.