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US new-home sales hold steady in January

[WASHINGTON] Sales of new US single-family homes held steady in January near the highest pace since mid-2008, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday.

New homes were sold at an annual rate of 481,000 units in January, a slight 0.2 per cent below the upwardly revised December rate of 482,000 units.

Sales last month came in well above analysts' expectations of a 470,000 unit pace.

The December and January sales paces were the strongest since June 2008, when the sales pace was 487,000 homes.

"This is a pleasant surprise, given the susceptibility of new-home sales to severe weather, which clearly has adversely affected other data," said Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics.

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"Sales have breached the prior trend in both December and January, but given the volatility of the numbers, we need more than two months' numbers to confirm an increase in the trend." Year-over-year, January new-home sales were up 5.3 percent.

The median price of a new home fell 2.6 per cent to US$294,300, while the average price tumbled 8.0 per cent to US$348,300.

The market had a supply of 5.4 months at January's sales pace, unchanged from December.

The new-home sales report marked a bright spot in a lacklustre US housing market. On Monday, the National Association of Realtors reported existing-home sales fell to their slowest pace in nine months.


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