Factories churned out more cars and appliances in December and homebuilders overcame inclement weather to begin work on more homes than projected, putting the U.S. economy on a strong footing heading into 2014.
A year ago, New Jersey contractor Michael Mroz’s customers were focused on saving money when renovating kitchens and baths, he said. Now, with a resurgence of home equity lending, they’re ready to pay for the best.
Shelby Webb, 22, rented her first apartment three weeks ago in Chattanooga, Tennessee, after landing a job translating ads for a Spanish-language newspaper. Now, she’s paying monthly bills for electricity, cable television and natural gas for the first time and has bought new pillows from Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
U.S. home prices won’t recover until the economy improves enough to boost the number of households and clear an oversupply of properties, said economist Karl Case, co-founder of the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index.