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Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

New home sales jumped to the highest in more than 14 years last month as home prices continue to increase around the U.S.

By the numbers: Single-family new home sales rose 20.7% from February to a 1.02 million seasonally adjusted annual rate. That was the fastest sales pace since September 2006.

  • Inventory fell to 3.6 months of supply, with just 307,000 new single-family homes for sale, 44.6% lower than March 2020.

One level deeper: The median sales price of a new home sale in March rose to $330,800, up from $328,200 a year earlier, when COVID-19 lockdowns began.

What to watch: The price of lumber is soaring, making new home construction and do-it-yourself home projects even more expensive, as Axios Charlotte's Katie Peralta Soloff wrote Saturday.

  • Lumber costs have surged more than 300% over the last year, according to FactSet.
  • The spike has added more than $24,000 to the average price of a new single-family home, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

The state of play: Lumber demand is far outpacing supply. During the pandemic, shutdowns forced sawmills to stop production.

  • At the same time, quarantining Americans embarked on all types of DIY projects, bolstering home-improvement companies like Lowe's.
  • Lumberyards and homebuilders held off on buying lumber for months, hoping that prices would come down, Fortune reported.

Of note: Rent prices also are starting to rise.

  • Median asking rent rose 1.1% year over year in March to $1,463 a month in the 50 largest U.S. markets, according to a report from Realtor.com. That marked the first month where the pace of rent growth had increased since last summer.
  • Real estate investors say the rental market is primed for another period of increased price growth, comparable to the years that followed the global financial crisis when effective rents outpaced inflation, WSJ reports.
  • In some markets, like Nashville and Denver, they increased more than 10% for multiple years, Matthew Lawton, an executive in the capital-markets division at brokerage JLL, told WSJ.

Go deeper

Key inflation measure grew slower than expected in June

Data: Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Axios Visuals

The price of goods and services rose 0.4% in June, slower than the 0.5% growth during May, according to the core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index released Friday morning. The June reading was lower than the consensus expectation for 0.6% growth.

Why it matters: The core PCE is the inflation measure the Federal Reserve watches most closely. June's reading is the second month in a row of decelerated price growth, giving the Fed breathing room to design a pullback strategy from its emergency market support.

Updated 8 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.