New-home sales rose unexpectedly in April but remained near their lowest level since 1991, according to new government data released Tuesday.
In other, weaker housing news, the S&P Case-Shiller Index showed housing prices across the country fell 14.1% in the first quarter vs. a year ago.
Sales of new homes totaled an annualized rate of 526,000 in April, which was 3.3% above March but 42% lower than a year earlier, the U.S. Census Bureau said. Economists expected 520,000 sales, according to
. The March level was the lowest since 1991.
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Total inventory levels fell for the 12th straight month. The month's supply inventory level -- which is based on the current sales pace -- was 10.6, down from 11.1 in March.
The median price of a new home sold in April was $246,100, compared with $242,500 a year ago. The price data on new home sales are volatile and can swing rapidly on issues of mix shift and price incentives.
The more closely watched housing price barometer, the S&P Case-Shiller Index, showed prices fell 14.1% in the first quarter, which was the largest drop in the data's 20-year history.
Major homebuilders were up slightly in morning trading, with
rising 2.3% to $21,
up 1.2% to $21.32 and
up 1.4% at $12.49.
, which is facing liquidity concerns, surged 54% to $3.42 after it announced a $530 million equity infusion.