Existing home sales fell by a record amount last month as the recession picked up pace although a collapse in gasoline prices gave consumer sentiment a rare lift, data on Tuesday showed.
"The bottom line: Bah humbug. Recession, recession, recession," said Jennifer Lee, an economist with BMO Capital Markets in Toronto.
The solitary good news came from the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers, which rose to 60.1 in December from November's reading of 55.3 due to lower energy and retail prices after stores made radical markdowns to tempt shoppers.
This trend was expected to continue, with the report noting more consumers expect price declines than in any other survey since 1960, pointing toward deflation fears that have prompted the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates to almost zero.
And that leads to our Fast Money Reader Poll. Are you considering a large purchase during the next few months because prices are so low?
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CNBC.com with wires