WASHINGTON — Sales of new single-family houses were down 1.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 313,000 in February, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

The February rate was below the 325,000 median annual rate projected by economists polled by Thomson Reuters and less than the revised January rate of 318,000, originally reported as 321,000. The rate was 11.4% above the February 2011 level of 281,000.

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