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Home Sales Rise 10 Percent

Thanks in part to a tax credit that lured first-time home buyers, sales of existing U.S. homes rose 10.1 percent in October to a 6.1 million annual rate, the highest level since February 2007. September's rate of 5.54 million was only expected to rise to around 5.7 million, but cheaper homes and an $8,000 tax incentive that the Obama administration had juiced up seemed to have increased consumer confidence and a willingness to "take the plunge," as one economist put it. Despite the good news, the foreclosure rate was higher than 300,000 for the eighth straight month, due in part to high levels of unemployment. The stock market rallied Monday morning, partly on the strength of the housing figures, and gold rose to a new high on the back of a weaker dollar.