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New-home sales fall in February

From Times wire reports

Housing has been a pillar of strength since the U.S. economy softened about three years ago, but even this sector has shown signs of cooling.

Purchases of new homes fell 8.1% in February to their lowest level in more than two years, the second straight monthly decline in spite of some of the lowest mortgage interest rates since the early 1960s.

Sales of U.S. existing homes fell 4.3% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.84 million units, according to the National Assn. of Realtors.

Although an unusually cold and snowy month may have kept potential buyers in some regions indoors, sales fell well short of the expectations of analysts polled by Reuters. Increasing consumer worries about the economy and the war with Iraq may now outweigh the appeal of cheap mortgages.

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In February, Americans bought new homes at the slowest rate since August 2000, the Commerce Department reported. Sales were down in every region of the country except the West, where they were unchanged.


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