WASHINGTON -- Sales of new U.S. single-family homes rose in June, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, as the housing sector continued to display resilience in a slumping economy.

New home sales climbed to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 922,000 units in the past month, a 1.7% increase from the revised May rate of 907,000. The June sales rate beat analysts' expectations of 921,000.

The sale of new homes in June was 16.3% higher than a year ago. This represents the biggest year-on-year increase in new home sales since December 1998-97.

The new home sales level was above 900,000 for the seventh month in a row, the first time this has happened since the Commerce Department began keeping the statistics in 1963.

New home sales climbed in the Northeast by 7.3% and in the South by 7.1%. June sales in the South set a record rate of 466,000 units. The sale of new homes dropped 9.3% in the Midwest and fell 1.6% in the West.

May home sale were revised downward to 907,000 units from the originally reported total of 928,000. The rate of increase was revised to 0.2% from an originally reported 0.8%.