News In Brief

Surge in new-house sales sets 2-decade US record

Sales of new houses shot up a surprising 28.5 percent in December, the biggest increase in more than two decades, the government said Tuesday. The sale of an estimated 50,000 new houses during the month boosted the housing industry's annual rate of sales to 808,000 in December after seasonal adjustment.

It was the the strongest surge in housing sales since April of 1963 and the highest level of new-house sales since October of 1978, the Commerce Department said.

In another surprise, the improvement occurred with no increase in the average price, which stayed the same as in November, $91,000.

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