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2009 sales of new homes weakest in 46 years

WASHINGTON - The weakest year for new home sales ended with a drop of 7.6 in December.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that only 374,000 homes were sold last year, down 23 percent from a year earlier, making 2009 the weakest year on record since 1963.

It said that December sales fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 342,000 from an upwardly revised November pace of 370,000.

Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had forecast a pace of 370,000 for December.

The results were the weakest since March and indicated demand remains sluggish despite newly expanded tax incentives to spur sales.

The median sales price of $221,300 was down nearly 4 percent from $229,600 a year earlier, but up about 5 percent from November's median of $210,300.

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