New Home Sales Jump More than Expected in February

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New U.S. single-family home sales surged in February to their highest level in seven years despite harsh winter weather, in a hopeful sign for the housing market.

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The Commerce Department said on Tuesday sales jumped 7.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 539,000 units, the highest level since February 2008.

January's sales pace was revised up to 500,000 units from the previously reported 481,000 units.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales falling to a 465,000-unit pace last month.

New home sales are counted at signing of contracts. February's gains came despite cold and snowy weather slamming large parts of the country in the last half of February.

Sales last month soared 152.9 percent in the Northeast, but fell 12.9 percent in the Midwest. Sales in the South jumped 10.1 They fell 6.0 percent in the West.

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With sales surging, the stock of new houses available on the market fell 1.4 percent last month to 210,000. At February's sales pace it would take 4.7 months to clear the supply of houses on the market, down from 5.1 in January.

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