Government incentives trigger highest monthly spike in 47 years
The U.S. housing market is giving the world's largest economy a boost.
The U.S. Commerce Department said Friday that sales of new homes rose 27 percent in March, the biggest monthly jump in almost 47 years.
Officials said some of the demand for new homes is likely due to a temporary tax credit for buyers. The credit is worth as much as $8,000, but is set to expire at the end of the month.
Economists watch the housing market closely because severe problems in this sector played a key role in the economic crisis.
A separate report Friday from the Commerce Department found orders placed with U.S. factories fell for the first time in four months despite gains in key areas.
The report on durable goods - items meant to last several years - said orders fell 1.3 percent in March led by steep declines in orders for commercial aircraft.
Other types of factory orders saw gains in March.
The Commerce Department said demand for computers and other types of electronic equipment jumped 3.4 percent in March, while orders for machinery also were strong.
Officials said that new factory orders, excluding transportation, were especially strong, rising the most since December 2007.
Orders for durable goods are seen as a key measure of the country's economic health.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.