March New-Home Sales Strong

Sales fall 7% from a year ago but jump 14% from February.
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Homebuilders took flight Wednesday after the Commerce Department reported stronger-than-expected March new-home sales.

The new-home sales for the month fell 7% from a year earlier but jumped 14% from February, the Commerce Department said.

Sales of new homes came in at a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.2 million in March, down 7.2% from 1.3 million a year ago. But the rate jumped 14% from February's revised rate of 1.07 million. Economists expected a rate of 1.1 million sales for March.

The median sales price was $224,200, down from $229,300 a year earlier.

A total of 555,000 homes were for sale at the end of March, representing 5.5 months of supply at the current sales rate. This number was up from March 2005, when there were 4.2 months of supply, but down from February's 6.3 months of supply.

Sales fell in every region of the country compared with a year earlier. Sales dropped 15% in the Northeast, 13% in the West, 9% in the Midwest and 2% in the South.

Homebuilders rose on the report, with

D.R. Horton

(DHI) - Get Report

gaining 3.4%,

Toll Brothers

(TOL) - Get Report

rising 3.9% and

Centex

(CTX)

advancing 2% in early trading.