New single-family home sales ended 2004 on a dull note but still set an annual record for the fourth consecutive year.New-home sales totaled 1.18 million in 2004, easily beating (by 8.3%) the previous year's record of 1.09 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The record year included a 13% drop in sales in November and no rebound in December. The Census Bureau reported that new-home sales held steady at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.1 million in November and December. Economists at the National Association of Home Builders say they have not detected any "softness" in the new-home market, but they expect a 3%-4% decline in sales this year due to rising mortgage rates.

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