Whoops, less than expected, and as the chart shows the seasonally adjusted rate of sales continues to decelerate from the prior peak months as weakness that began with the collapse of oil capex continues to spread to the rest of the economy:
Sales of existing United States homes unexpectedly rose in January, reaching a six-month high, in the latest sign that the economy remains on firmer ground despite slowing global growth.
The National Association of Realtors said home resales increased 0.4 percent to an annual rate of 5.47 million units, the highest level since July. Last month’s sales pace was also the second-highest since 2007.
Sales rose strongly in the Northeast, despite a major snowstorm in late January, and were also up in the Midwest. Economists had expected home resales to decrease 2.9 percent to a pace of 5.32 million units last month.
Home resales were up 11 percent from a year ago, the largest year-on-year gain since July 2013.
A separate report showed that the Standard & Poor’s/Case Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas rose 5.7 percent in December on a year-over-year basis, matching the increase in the previous month.
the Tiger Forces and their pro-government allies are preparing for what is likely to be the largest military operation launched during this brutal conflict.
The Tiger Forces’ presence in Ithriya is no coincidence, they are going to assault the western countryside of the Al-Raqqa Governorate and they are going to lead the operation to liberate the Tabaqa Military Airport from ISIS. The desert-city of Ithriya is strategically located in the Hama Governorate’s northeastern countryside; it borders the Aleppo Governorate to the north and it is situated 15 km west of the Al-Raqqa axis.
We yesterday described what looks like a Turkish-Saudi plan to raise a Salafi-Sunni militia in north Lebanon to then attack nearby Syrian regions held by the Syrian government. Such a new front of the conflict in Syria would necessarily involve fighting in Lebanon as the Lebanese Shia Hizbollah movement is actively supporting the Syrian government. The plot would destabilize Lebanon, probably throwing it back into the brutal times of the Lebanese civil war.
There was no confirmation of such a plot yesterday, just several signs for it like the ship with weapons from Turkey that was caught by the Greek coastguard on its way to north Lebanon.
The existence of such a plan was confirmed today. We still can no say for sure that the plot is part of a U.S. "Plan B" to achieve a violent "regime change" in Syria, but we know that the U.S. is informed about the plan.
There are obvious signs for a plan to use Saudi controlled Sunni militia from Lebanon against the Syrian government and its supporters. The U.S. is, in my view, very likely involved in this plot. But we still do not know if this plan will ever be implemented. The recent Saudi threat to send its army into Syria turned out to be a pure (dis-)information campaign to unsettle the Syrian government's side. The recent revelations about the plot in Lebanon and the "Plan B" may also be pure deception and illusionary to gain some leverage for the coming negotiations.