Midwest buying spree lifted US new-home sales in November

WASHINGTON (AP) - A buying spree in the Midwest spurred new U.S. home sales last month to the fastest pace since July.

The Commerce Department says new-home sales in November rose 5.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate 592,000. It was the fastest pace since July's 622,000. Sales were up 16.5 percent from November 2015.

Sales in the Midwest shot up 43.8 percent, the region's biggest monthly increase since October 2012. Sales were up 7.7 percent in the West, flat in the Northeast and down 3.1 percent in the South.

Demand for new homes has been strong this year, helped by a healthy job market and low mortgage rates. But cheap loans may be vanishing. Long-term mortgage rates have risen since the election and this week hit the highest level since 2014.