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Home Sales Hit Highest Level in Two Years

Home sales surge by 9.4%, far surpassing expectations.



) -- Finally, some good news in the housing sector this week: it was announced today that home sales rose much more than expected in September.

The National Association of Realtors said sales soared by 9.4%, their highest level in more than two years, to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.57 million. Economists expected home sales to rise to an annual pace of 5.35 million.

The median sales price was $174,900, and while this is still down 8.5% from last year, it is the smallest decline in over a year.

Earlier this week, however, the Commerce Department said

housing starts inched up 0.5%

, but missed expectations, and building permits slipped 1.2%, in their biggest decline since April.

Also on Thursday

The Federal Housing Finance Agency said home prices slipped 0.3% in August

, following three consecutive months of declines.

Shares of home builders are mostly in the red in morning trading.

KB Home

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has fallen 3% to $35.63.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York

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