The Commerce Department has reported that sales of new single-family homes rose 4.7 percent to a record 1.160 million annual rate, surprising analysts who had expected sales to slip to a 1.120 million rate.

June's unexpected gain in new home sales followed a revised 10.9 percent jump in May to a 1.108 million annual pace. The increase in sales left the inventory of new homes on the market at only 3.6 months' worth, the lowest since November 1998.