WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy is looking more resilient, thanks in part to encouraging signs for the two most expensive purchases most Americans make: cars and homes.
Cheap loans and a bounty of fuel-efficient models enticed people to buy new vehicles at a brisk pace last month. And the nation enjoyed another year-over-year surge in home prices in August — a sign that the housing industry is making a sustained comeback.
Both trends reflect rising confidence in the economy. They show that more families are replacing aging cars, more homeowners are deciding to sell and more would-be buyers are concluding that a home is a good investment.
A gauge of prices calculated by CoreLogic, a private data provider, jumped 4.6 percent in August compared with August 2011. It was the sharpest year-over-year gain in more than six years.
“The housing market’s gains are increasingly geographically diverse, with only six states continuing to show declining prices,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.
On Tuesday, automakers reported solid increases in September. Total sales for the month are expected to exceed 1.1 million vehicles, up 11 percent from September 2011.
Analysts expect sales to total about 14.3 million this year, up from 12.8 million last year. Sales peaked at 17 million in 2005 before hitting a 30-year low of 10.4 million during the recession in 2009.