US home sales beat expectations with 6.4pc rise

Harriet Green and Guy Bentley

The number of houses sold in the US grew 6.4 per cent, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 433,000 in April. The surge in sales came primarily from the Midwest.

The figures put an end to two straight months of declines, while the number of houses on the market climbed to a three-and-a-half year high.

The may also soothe fears that housing activity isn’t picking up by as much as expected. Analysts were expecting to see a sharp rebound in construction last month, following the severe dampener brought about by the freezing winter.

Analysts at Investec said in a preview that these figures "are likely to take on additional significance this week following Janet Yellen’s comments regarding housing market softness."

Figures from the National Association of Realtors had suggested yesterday that the story could be slightly different. Existing home saleswere up from 4.59m to 4.65m in April, with the change in existing home sales up by 1.3 per cent. But, that was considerably below the 2.2 per cent increase economists were expecting.