Updated from 10:15 a.m. EDT
New-home sales fell 4.3% in July and inventories rose to record levels, as the U.S. housing market continues its downward spiral.
The Commerce Department said Thursday that sales of new single-family homes came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.072 million houses, down from the revised rate of 1.12 million in June and dropping 22% from 1.367 million from a year earlier
Economists' expected an annual sales rate of 1.105 million, according to
The median sales price of new houses sold in July was $230,000, flat with a year earlier.
The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of July rose to the highest-ever number of 568,000 from 566,000 at the end of June. The inventory represents a supply of 6.5 months at the current sales rate -- up 55% from a year earlier and the highest months' supply since 1995.
"One thing that concerns me is the inventory," says Phillip Neuhart, an economic analyst with Wachovia.
Beaten-down shares of homebuilders rose on the news, which came a day after the National Association of Realtors said existing-homes sales in July fell to
the lowest level in 2 1/2 years as inventory rose to a new high.
shares recently were up 2.1% to $25.06,
rose 2.2% to $28.71, while
gained 1.2% to $41.79.