New Home Sales Rise in April

Sales of new homes in the United States increased 1.0 percent in April, the government said on Friday, as low mortgage rates kept luring buyers.

New single-family homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 915,000 units last month, a climb from the upwardly revised pace of 906,000 units in March, the Commerce Department said. April home sales exceeded the expectations of analysts polled by Reuters, who had forecast a pace of 882,000 units.

Inventories rose to 316,000 homes in April from 310,000 the previous month. This was their highest level since December 1996. However, the supply of homes available for sale at the current sales pace was 4.2 months' worth, an inventory level economists consider tight.

By region, new home sales fell by 3.2 percent in the South, the area with the greatest sales volume. They fell 5.6 percent in the West, and 13.8 percent in the Northeast. Sales surged by 33.8 percent in the Midwest, the biggest gain in that region since December 1993.

Home mortgage rates have remained below 7 percent, since the U.S. Federal Reserve has kept interest rates at their lowest in four decades as the central bank gauges the strength of the U.S. economic recovery. Housing activity has slowed from some of its record levels of last year and over the course of a mild winter, with housing starts down in April and a decline in existing home sales in March.

Nevertheless, most economists expect levels of home building and buying to stay strong throughout the year thanks to low interest rates and resilient consumer confidence.