By Martin Crutsinger of the Associated Press
WASHINGTON — According to the Commerce Department’s report released Wednesday, sales of new homes plunged to a record low in January; underscoring formidable challenges facing the housing industry as it recovers from the worst slump in decades. New-home sales dropped 11.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 309,000 units, the lowest level on record. In fact it fell to the lowest in nearly a half century. And the drop was a surprise to economists who were expecting a slight increase over December’s pace. While winter storms were partly to blame, sales have fallen for 3 consecutive months despite sweeping and often heavy-handed government support.
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