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US new-home sales increased 4.9 percent in February

Sales of new U.S. homes climbed 4.9 percent in February, an indication that falling mortgage rates have given a boost to demand from buyers.

The Commerce Department says that new homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 667,000 in February, an increase from an upwardly revised 636,000 in January. New-home sales are running 2.8 percent higher through the first two months of 2019 than during the same period last year.

A sharp drop in mortgage rates has eased affordability pressures and aided homebuying. The average 30-year mortgage rate climbed for much of 2018 to roughly 5 percent in November, only to dip to nearly 4 percent this week, according mortgage buyer Freddie Mac.

The median sales price of a new home in February fell 3.6 percent to $315,300.