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The Commerce department reported on Monday that sales of newly built homes jumped 11.1% in March. This was a bigger jump than expected, yet the month's new-home sales figure remained 21.9% below earlier-year levels. Read more about this in the full article from The Street.

Sales of newly built homes jumped 11.1% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 300,000, the Commerce Department said early Monday, a bigger jump than expected.

The figure was expected to come in at a rate of 280,000, according to consensus estimates at Briefing.com, after sales of newly built homes plunged in February to a revised rate of 270,000, one of the worst rates on record since 1962.

March's new-home sales figure remained 21.9% below year-earlier levels.

The median sale price of new homes sold last month was $213,800; the average sales price was $246,800.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, there were 183,000 new homes for sale at the end of March, representing a 7.3-month supply at the current sales rate.

Data released last week showed that existing-home sales rose 3.7% in March to a slightly better-than-expected seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.1 million units, according to the National Association of Realtors.

March's rate of home resales remained 6.3% below year-earlier levels, and 24.8% below the cyclical peak of 6.49 million units in Nov. 2009, which was the first month following the initial deadline for the first-time homebuyer tax credit.

The SPDR S&P Homebuilders (XHB), an exchange-traded fund that tracks the homebuilder sector, remains around 60% off its peak of $46.08 in early 2006. The iShares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction (ITB) ETF remains more than 70% off its peak of $50.10 in the spring of 2006.

Stocks in the homebuilder sector were mixed Monday morning.

Among individual builders, D.R. Horton (DHI) gained 0.5%, Toll Brothers (TOL) declined 0.4% and Lennar (LEN) lost 0.1%.

PulteGroup (PHM), recently added to Goldman Sachs' (GS) conviction buy list, shed 0.5%.

Small-cap builder KB Home (KBH) was lower by 0.4%.

This article was republished with permission from The Street.