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New Home Sales Plunge 10.6% as Prices Increase

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Associated Press

New home sales plunged 10.6% in November, the steepest decline in almost three years, as the average price jumped $6,300 to $101,000, the government reported today.

But in a separate and more optimistic report, the Commerce Department said orders to U.S. factories for manufactured goods rose 4.3% in November, the largest gain since a 4.6% increase in June, 1983.

Sales of new single-family homes were put at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 591,000 in November, the slowest sales pace since August.

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Sales had risen 16.5% in September and 0.9% in October, prompting hopes in the depressed building industry that lower mortgage rates were once again attracting home buyers. The November decline was the biggest since an 18.4% drop in January, 1982.

The department said new factory orders totaled $193.8 billion in November, an increase of $8 billion from the October level. Orders, which are viewed as a good indicator of future production, had fallen for three consecutive months.

About two-thirds of the increase came from a big surge in orders for military hardware, which were almost double the October rate. Even with military sales removed from the calculation, however, orders were up 1.7%.

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