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US Home Sales Surge in January

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US Home Sales Surge in January

The sale of new US homes surged last month, a sign the housing market maintained its recovery pace amid a weather-induced slowdown.

New US home sales rose 9.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 468,000, official data from the Commerce Department showed today. The monthly rate, which was the highest in five-and-a-half years, topped forecasts by around 68,000, according to a Reuters poll.

Compared to year-ago levels, new home sales were 2.2 percent higher. The median sales price of new homes sold in January was $260,100. There were 184,000 new homes for sale at the end of January, official data showed. December’s sales were revised up from 414,000 to 427,000.

Sales in the Northeast soared more than 73 percent to a seven-month high, despite unusually cold weather. The South recorded a gain of more than 10 percent, with transactions hitting a more than five-year high. Unlike the Northeast, severe weather trimmed sales in the Midwest, where 17.2 percent fewer transactions were recorded compared to the previous month.

The unexpected surge in home sales comes amid a broad slowdown in economic activity in the United States. The unrelenting winter has stalled the pace of jobs growth and reduced consumer spending across the retail sector. Economists forecast this trend would extend to the housing sector, which has painted a mixed picture in recent months. The housing market lost momentum in the second half of 2013, as rising mortgage rates and a shortage of supply weighed on buying plans.

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