The beleaguered home building industry got some welcome news this morning as the Commerce Department issued a monthly new-home sales report that showed the biggest jump--16.2%--in seasonally adjusted sales since 1993. Prices, however, declined precipitously, with the average price falling from $324,700 in March to $299,100 in April, a decrease of 7.8%; and the median falling from March's $257,600 to $229,100 in April, a decline of 11%.

According to the report , issued jointly by the Census Buearu and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, sales of new one-family houses in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 981,000, a 16.2% increase from March's 844,000. The rate remains 10.6% below the April 2006 estimate of 1,097,000.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of April was 538,000, down from 546,000 in March. This represents a supply of 6.5 months at the current sales rate, which was down 19.8% from March's 8.1 month's supply at the March sales rate.

Regionally, the South led the way with a 28% sales gain. Sales in the Northeast were up 3.8%, up 8.5% in the West and down 4.0% in the Midwest.