Defying forecasts of an imminent slowdown, sales of new homes shot up in April to the fastest sales pace this year. But prices were up only slightly, and the backlog of unsold homes hit a new record.
THE NUMBERS: The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that sales of new single-family homes increased by 4.9 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.198 million units, the highest rate since last December. Many economists had been forecasting a sales decline in April.
NATIONAL MEDIAN PRICE:
The median price of a new home sold in April was $238,500, up just 0.9 percent from a year ago, far below the double-digit price gains sellers were enjoying last year.
Economists said the increase had been skewed by the fact that the government lowered sales activity significantly in prior months. Also, they said the number of unsold homes remaining on the market at the end of April rose to the highest level on record.
ORDERS FALL: Orders to U.S. factories for bigticket manufactured goods fell 4.8 percent in April, the largest amount in three months, as aircraft orders plunged by 32.2 percent and demand for computers and other electronic products dropped by the largest amount in nearly six years.
NOT SO BAD: Analysts said this decline overstated the weakness in manufacturing, which they said should still show strong gains in coming months.