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U.S. sales of new homes rose 3.3 percent in April

Updated: May 23, 2012 12:00PM

WASHINGTON— Sales of new homes rose solidly last month, adding to evidence of gradual improvement in the housing market.

The Commerce Department says sales increased 3.3 percent in April from March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 343,000. That followed a 7.3 percent decline in March.

A pickup in hiring and cheaper mortgages, combined with lower home prices in most markets, has made home buying more attractive. Builder confidence has increased steadily since the fall, a sign that some expect the market to improve later this year.

Still, sales of new homes are well below the 700,000 annual sales that economists equate with healthy markets.

In April, sales rose in all regions except the South. The median price rose to $235,700, up slightly from March.

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