WASHINGTON, June 25, 2003 (Hanley-Wood News Service) - New home sales rose 12.5 percent in May to a record 1.157 million annual rate, the Commerce Dept. announced today.

Low mortgage rates and a quick end to the Iraq war spurred sales in the month, bolstering home building's position as a bright spot in the slumbering U.S. economy.

The 12.5 percent May gain was the largest since September 1993. The May 1.157 million annual rate topped the previous record of 1.057 million set in September 2002.

The Commerce Dept. also released revised April new home sales figures, setting that month's annual rate at 1.028 million, or a 1 percent gain.

For the complete Commerce Dept. report on May new home sales, go to BUILDER Online's Market Data section.

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