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New-home sales jump to highest level in 2½ years

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans bought new homes last month at the fastest pace in more than 2½ years, adding to other recent evidence that the housing market is steadily recovering.

The Commerce Department says that sales of new homes rose 4.4 percent in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 377,000. That's the strongest pace since April 2010, when a homebuyer's tax credit boosted sales.

New-home sales have increased 15.3 percent in the past year. Still, the improvement comes from depressed levels. Sales remain below the 700,000 that economists consider healthy.

Rising sales have kept the supply of available homes low, which pushes up prices. Only 149,000 new homes were for sale at the end of last month, just above a record low of 143,000 in August.

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