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New home sales drop in February in stormy East and Northwest

Still, 2-month average is same as where 2013 left off

Sales of newly built, single-family homes fell 3.3% across the country to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 440,000 units in February, according to newly released figures from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.

"There is no doubt that the persistently bad weather (in much of the country) took a toll on sales in February," said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Wilmington, Del. "However, builders continued to increase their inventory of for-sale homes, indicating they still anticipate a relatively strong spring buying season."

"We still expect 2014 will be a strong year for housing," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "The first two-month average of 2014 is exactly in line with where 2013 left off. If not for the unusual weather, we would easily be ahead of last year's pace. We also continue to see household formations and pent-up demand driving sales forward."

Regionally, new-home sales activity fell 32.4% in the weather-battered Northeast, 1.5% in the South and 15.9% in the West. The Midwest posted a gain of 36.7%, stemming from an unusually low January figure.

The inventory of new homes rose to 189,000 units in February, a 5.2 month supply at the current sales pace.

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