I received this CNN e-mail this morning:
Pending home sales in April rose 6.3%, from March, but fell 13.1% from last year, according to a Realtor trade group.
Not bad. It might even be fair to say (emphasis: might) that the real estate market is on the long road back to something resembling normalcy.
The Associated Press’s J.W. Elphinstone sanitized this pretty decent news, and I’ll show you how:
NAR: US pending home sales move higher in April
Pending home sales unexpectedly rose in April to the highest reading since October, an industry group said Monday, but experts say the large proportion of distressed property sales will continue to weigh down prices.
The National Association of Realtors’ seasonally adjusted index of pending sales for existing homes rose to 88.2 from a March reading of 83.0, the lowest since the index was started in 2001. However, it’s still 13 percent below April 2007′s reading of 101.5.
Wall Street economists polled by Thomson/IFR had predicted the index would remain steady at 83.
Elphinstone managed to tell us the percentage decline from last year, but never told us the percentage increase over the previous month. The AP reporter only told us the change in the index, and left it to the reader to calculate the increase (5.2 points divided by 83.0 is 6.3%, rounded). The average reader probably won’t do the calculation, and the 13% decline will be their primary takeaway.
If you go to the realtor group’s press release, you’ll see that they had the 6.3% increase in their second paragraph. Elphinstone had to work to take it out.
Isn’t that “clever”?
Even the captioning of the pictures at the story link makes sure to mention the 13% decline in pending sales from a year ago while only saying that they “unexpectedly increased in April to the highest reading since October.” Again, the 6.3% increase is nowhere to be found.
It’s just another example of the subtle methods reporters who seem not to want relatively good economic news to get out use to obscure it.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.