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New home sales rose in February, climbing for the third month in a row as mortgage rates eased off their highs of the past year and buyers looked to new construction amid historically low inventory of existing homes for sale.

Sales of newly constructed homes were up 1.1% in February from January, but fell 19% from a year ago, according to a joint report from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the US Census Bureau. February’s month-over-month gain is further evidence that the housing market may be stabilizing.

Sales of new single‐family houses were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 640,000, up from a revised 633,000 in January. Sales were down from last year’s estimated rate of 790,000. It was the strongest sales pace since August.