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US new-home sales jump in month of October after September drop

WASHINGTON -- Americans ramped up purchases of new homes in October after three months of soft sales, evidence that the housing recovery is improving fitfully.

Sales of new homes grew 25.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 444,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That was the largest monthly percentage increase since May 1980.

But the increase came after sales had fallen 6.6 percent in September to a 354,000 annual rate, the weakest since April 2012. And sales in August and July were revised lower to 379,000 and 373,000, respectively.

Sales had slowed over the summer after mortgage rates rose sharply and a limited number of homes for sale boosted prices. The combination made home-buying less affordable.

New-homes sales have risen 21.6-percent higher for the 12 months ending in October. Still, the pace remains well below the 700,000 consistent with a healthy market.

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