LOS ANGELES (AP) â¿¿ Shares of homebuilders surged Monday after the government released data showing new home sales jumped in June by nearly 24 percent from a month earlier, when sales sank to the slowest pace on record.

The Commerce Department said sales of newly built homes reached a seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of 330,000 last month, the second-weakest month on record.

New home sales are down 72 percent from their peak annual rate of 1.39 million in July 2005. After the housing bubble burst, sales plunged to 375,000 last year. That was the weakest yearly total on records dating back to 1963.

High unemployment, low job growth, and tight credit have kept people from buying homes. The industry received a boost this spring when the government offered tax credits to home buyers. But since they expired in April, the number of people looking to buy has dropped, even with the lowest mortgage rates in decades.

Because many home buyers stepped up their plans to buy a home to qualify for the tax incentives, it has become harder to predict how sales might unfold this year.

Investors took the latest sales report as a positive sign, sending housing stocks higher.

Shares of Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. jumped 32 cents, or 7.5 percent, to $4.61 in afternoon trading. Meanwhile, Beazer Homes USA Inc. added 23 cents, or 5.7 percent, to $4.27. PulteGroup Inc. rose 45 cents, or 5.2 percent, to $9.11.

KB Home fell added 46 cents, or 3.9 percent, to $12.19, while Lennar Corp. rose 53 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $15.46. DR Horton Inc. rose 36 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $11.21. Toll Brothers Inc. added 49 cents to $17.96.

Ryland Group Inc. jumped 73 cents, or 4.3 percent, to $17.80, Standard Pacific Corp. rose 20 cents, or 5.3 percent, to $4.01 and Meritage Homes Corp. added 66 cents, or 3.8 percent, to $18.24. MDC Holdings Inc. rose 85 cents to $30.28, while shares of NVR Inc. added 95 cents to $640.95.

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