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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.

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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.

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