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U.S. SINGLE-FAMILY HOME SALES JUMPED TO A SEVEN-MONTH HIGH IN FEBRUARY.

Thursday, April 13th , 2017 by Bill Nelson

(Reuters) - New U.S. single-family home sales jumped to a seven-month high in February, suggesting the housing market recovery continued to gain momentum despite the challenges of high prices and tight inventories.

Other data on Thursday showed an unexpected increase in the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week. Still, the labor market continues to tighten, which together with the strength in housing, should underpin economic growth.

The Commerce Department said new home sales increased 6.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 592,000 units last month, the highest level since July 2016. Sales have now recouped the sharp drop suffered in December.

Economists had forecast new home sales, which account for about 9.7 percent of the overall market, rising 0.7 percent to a rate of 565,000 units in February. Sales were up 12.8 percent compared to the same month last year, showing the housing market's resilience.

Last month's sales were likely partially buoyed by unseasonably warm weather. Although mortgage rates have risen and may go higher, most economists see a limited impact on housing because a tightening labor market is improving employment opportunities for young adults.
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