New home sales in the U.S. rose faster than expected in February, the Census Bureau reported Friday, in a sign that the housing market remains on a solid footing despite a slowdown in the economy.
Sales rose 4.9% as some 667,000 new homes were sold during the month on a seasonally adjusted basis, up from a revised 636,000 sales in January, according to the report.
The increase also was steeper than projected by economists, who had estimated February sales at 620,000, based on a survey by the data provider FactSet.
The median sales price rose to $315,300 from a revised $303,900 a month earlier, the report showed.
Economists typically caution that the home-sales reports are subject to a wide margin of error.
Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said he believes sales will be "significantly higher by mid-year."
"The direction of travel is favorable" for the data, he wrote in a report.
The number of new homes for sale decreased by 0.6% during the month to about 340,000, according to the Census.
Will I Have Enough Money to Retire?
Want to learn about retirement planning from some of the nation's top experts? Join TheStreet's Robert "Mr. Retirement" Powell live in New York on April 6 for our Retirement Strategies Symposium. For a limited time, tickets are available for $99 for this full-day event. Check out the agenda, learn about the speakers and sign up here.