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New home sales fall 7.3% but last month's number revised up

New home sales are lagging behind those of existing homes.

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A home is offered for sale by Remax Realty in a Toll Brothers housing development on Dec. 4, 2012 in South Barrington, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

New home sales fell 7.3 percent month-over-month to 369,000.

Last month's number was revised up to 398,000, for 9.3 percent.

December new home sales were up 8.8 percent from a year ago.

The median sales prices of new homes sold in December was $248,900.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale was 151,000, which represents a supply of 4.9 months at the current sales rate.

An estimated 367,000 new homes were sold in 2012, up 19.9 percent from a year ago.

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New home sales for December will be out at 10 a.m. ET.

Analysts polled by Bloomberg are looking for sales to rise to an annual rate of 385 K.

While housing has been called the only bright spot in the U.S. economy, some are concerned that new home sales haven't been as strong and could add to inventory.

Millan Mulraine at TD Securities wrote:

The new homes market has been a laggard in the overall housing market recovery, and while new homebuilding and existing home sales activity have risen significantly from their lows, new home sales have yet to enjoy a similar turnaround in fortune.

Remember decline in inventory (existing and new homes) is one of the key things propping up home prices. Moreover analysts caution about seasonality in interpreting year-end data.

"Inventory typically falls at the end of the year and picks up again in Q1 in anticipation of the spring selling season," according to Bank of America's Michelle Meyer.

New home sales measure newly constructed homes where sales have closed. Investors watch this data because it offers insight on the health of consumer and the economy.

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