Key housing data will be released this week as the Federal Reserve Board sits down for another two-day meeting to set monetary policy amid signs the recession is losing steam.

May sales of new and existing homes will indicate whether falling prices, low mortgage rates and a tax credit for new buyers have stopped the free fall in real estate demand.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones on Friday and Monday forecast that existing home sales, to be reported Tuesday, rose 2.6% in May to an annual rate of 4.8 million following April's 2.9% gain.

What will be worth noting in the National Association of Realtors' report is what percentage of the existing homes sold were foreclosed houses. Distressed and forced sales helped to trigger the collapse in home prices.

The median forecast for new-home sales, due Wednesday, is for a gain of 2.3% to a 360,000 rate in May. Sales of new homes increased 0.3% in April.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.