The first quarter of 2014 was the worst in five years, according to Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Research Group. That, combined with only a moderate pickup during the second quarter of the year, means economic growth was essentially flat for the entire first half of this year. But despite the slower than expected first half of 2014, economic and housing market activity is expected to pick up through the end of the year. Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist, says housing data continues to point to a modest rebound in the market. According to Duncan, the spring and summer sales season has contributed to recent improvements in housing activity but, despite the gains, the group expects total home sales will not be able to overcome the slow start to the year. Fannie Mae has forecast that total home sales will decline by about 2 percent this year from last year’s totals. Still, an expected increase in economic activity and consumer spending, combined with improvement in the labor market and personal income, bodes well for continued acceleration in growth for both the general economy and housing market. More here.