WASHINGTON – Sales of new U.S. homes fell 1.6 percent in May to a lower-than-expected level while prices climbed from April, according to a government report Tuesday that continued to point to weakness in the housing sector.
New single-family home sales fell to an annual rate of 915,000 from a downwardly revised rate of 930,000 in April, the Commerce Department said.
Analysts polled by Reuters were expecting May sales to fall to a 925,000 unit pace from a previously reported rate of 981,000 units in April.
In May, the median sales price of a new home rose 1.5 percent to $236,100 from $232,700 in April. Last month, new homes prices took a record tumble while sales rose strongly.
There were 536,000 new homes for sale in May, a fall from the 542,000 reported in April. It would take 7.1 months to clear that inventory at the current sales pace, more than the 7.0 months recorded in April.
U.S. Treasury debt prices and the dollar were little changed after a mixed batch of data, which in addition to the new homes report included news consumer confidence fell to a 10-month low in June while a manufacturing index of the Richmond Federal Reserve rose sharply in June from May.
Federal funds rate futures showed perceived chances of a Fed rate cut by year-end were slightly trimmed after the reports.
Tuesday's data came a day after another key report that measures the pace of existing home sales — which represents 85 percent of the housing market. May home resales slipped to their lowest level in four years while the overstock of homes rose and prices dropped from their year-ago level for the 10th straight month.
New home sales were mixed across the regions, with the Midwest reporting the largest gain of 31 percent while the Northeast saw an 11 percent drop. The South saw a 7.3 percent drop while the West saw a decline of 1.9 percent.