US new-home sales tumble in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans pulled back sharply from buying new homes in December, but sales for all of 2016 were the highest since 2007.

The Commerce Department says new-home sales last month fell 10.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate 536,000. Sales totaled 563,000 in 2016, up 12.2 percent over the past year.

New-home purchases fell in the Midwest, South and West last month and increased in the Northeast. Sales of new homes can be volatile on a monthly basis.

Low mortgage rates and an improving job market boosted sales for much of 2016. But borrowing has become pricier since the November presidential election. Average 30-year mortgage rates have climbed above 4 percent. While that remains low on a historical basis, the higher average has squeezed affordability and potentially limited sales.