Page last updated at 14:52 GMT, Thursday, 24 April 2008 15:52 UK

US new home sales at 16-year low

US home for sale
House prices are slumping after a five year boom

Sales of new homes in the US fell more than expected in March to their lowest level since late 1991.

Sales fell 8.5% from February to a seasonally adjusted 526,000 homes, according to the Commerce Department.

The median price of a home was down 13.3% from March 2007, which is the biggest fall since July 1970.

Sales were down in all regions of the country, with the biggest falls coming in the north-east of the country, where sales declined by 19.4%.

In other economic news, the Commerce Department said that orders for manufactured items such as fridges and washing machines from US factories fell 0.3% in March.

It means that so-called durable goods orders have fallen for three months in a row, which has not happened since 2001.

But there was some better news, with the Labor Department announcing that the number of newly laid-off workers claiming unemployment benefit fell 33,000 last week to 342,000.

The figure had been expected to rise.




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