Sales of new single-family homes decreased 0.6% to a 342,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate in May, according to data released by the Commerce Department yesterday.

The May figure came after a downwardly revised 344,000 rate in April, originally reported as a 0.3% rise to 352,000. Thomson Reuters’ poll of economists had predicted a 360,000 sales level for May. New homes sales were 32.8% below the 509,000 rate in May 2008.

Sales in the Northeast soared 28.6% to 27,000 from 21,000, sales in the Midwest rose 18.6% to 51,000 from 43,000, and sales in the West gained 1.3% to 80,000 homes from 79,000 a month earlier. In the South sales were down 8.5% to 184,000 from 201,000.

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