WASHINGTON -- A strong showing in the Northeast and South helped boost sales of new single-family houses 2.6% in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 703,000, the Commerce Department said.

September's increase followed a revised 7.9% rise in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 685,000. The August rise previously was reported as 9.7%. New-home sales have now risen for three straight months, despite higher mortgage rates.

Through the first nine months of 1994, new one-family home sales totaled 532,000, up 5.1% from 506,000 during the 1993 period. Sales rose 11.8% in the Northeast to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 95,000, the highest since April 1993 when the level of sales was 103,000, the department said. New home sales in the Northeast have risen 93.9% so far this year.

Sales rose 7.6% in the South to a rate of 296,000.

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