(Updated with additional information and stock prices.)
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Sales of newly built homes were flat in August at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 288,000, the Commerce Department said Friday morning. The figure came in below expectations for a rate of 291,000 after an all-time low rate rate of 276,000 in July.
July's results were originally reported at a sales pace of 276,000, the worst on record until Friday's adjustment to 288,000. May's new-home sales pace of 282,000 was the slowest pace on record.
While the date came in below expectations and activity in the still-struggling housing market remains muted, it does point to some sense of stabilization.The report came a day after the National Association of Realtors showed existing-home sales rebounded 7.6% in August to a better-than-expected seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.13 million units. August's new-home sales rate represented an 11% decline from year-earlier results. The median sales price for new houses sold in August fell 0.6% to $204,000, the report said, the lowest since December 2003, while the average selling price was $248,000. The median price was 1.2% lower than year-earlier results. There were 206,000 new homes for sale at the end of August. Inventory fell 1.4% to the lowest level since August 1968. It would take 8.6 months to work through current inventory at the current sales pace. Stocks in the homebuilder sector were mostly higher in trading on Friday morning, on a broadly bullish day for the market with U.S. equities looking to close the week with their fourth-consecutive weekly gain. The SPDR S&P Homebuilders (XHB), an exchange-traded fund that tracks the homebuilder sector, gained 2.8%. The iShares Dow Jones US Home Construction (ITB) rose 2.9%. NVR (NVR) added 1.5%, D.R. Horton (DHI) 3.6%, PulteGroup (PHM) 4.3% and Toll Brothers (TOL) 3.2%. Lennar (LEN) added 4.2%. Lennar said Monday it returned to year-over-year profitability, beating quarterly expectations on higher revenue and a greater number of home deliveries. >>Lennar Beats on Return to Profitability
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