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NEW YORK (Reuters) - New single-family home sales dropped in March to their lowest level in four months, but the reading still beat analysts' expectations as the government said sales in prior months were higher than initially thought.

Consumer confidence edged slightly lower in April, while Americans also reined in their inflation expectations after a surge in the previous month, according to a private sector report released on Tuesday.

Home prices up 0.3 pct in February -- FHFA

COMMENTS:

MICHAEL BROWN, ECONOMIST, WELLS FARGO SECURITIES, CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA

"The disappointing part of the report is the downward revision in March. The present situation continues to improve but future expectations continue to deteriorate. We are seeing consumers are still concerned about the jobs situation. You also can't discount the effect of high gasoline prices on household income."

"When we look at the gradual deterioration in confidence, the robust consumer spending in the earlier part of this year is not likely going to continue. The income growth has just not been there. Consumers are just (reacting) rationally to the economic conditions. We are looking for a pullback in consumer spending in the second quarter."

SEAN INCREMONA, ECONOMIST, 4CAST LTD, NEW YORK

"(Consumer confidence) was not really too surprising. You've got very marginal downside. The second consecutive decline highlights that there is some loss of momentum in consumer confidence. It is not really too worrying at this point, we have higher gas prices and stocks have taken a hit from the end of the first quarter, so there should be some downside pressure. There is still some relatively good news on the employment side of things and that is supportive.

"There is still a very soft picture (in the housing market), although somewhat choppy as there is some stabilization on the demand side of things. New home sales have had some upside revisions and existing home sales have been pretty steady. The conditions in housing are still extremely weak but there are some very subtle, less negative, signs suggesting stabilization there."

JOSH STILES, MANAGING DIRECTOR, IDEAGLOBAL, NEW YORK:

"People don't want to react to the home sales drop in March without looking at the upward revision to the prior month. The net level of new home sales relative to expectations is slightly above consensus. But it's an ambiguous report. New homes is a very small part of the overall market. There's a lot of competing inventory from existing homes and foreclosures."

TOM PORCELLI, CHIEF U.S. ECONOMIST, RBC CAPITAL MARKETS, NEW YORK

"With the confidence data, there was really not much there and it was not much of a change from the previous month. We are sort of treading water from a confidence perspective."

"With home sales, there was a fairly sizable upward revision made to the previous months, so the fairly sizable decline in the current month was likely pay-back for that."

ADAM SARHAN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF SARHAN CAPITAL IN NEW YORK

"The fact that sales beat expectations is a good thing, but it's a wash with the Case-Shiller from earlier. For the most part the market is yawning at the data. The real story is the macro view. Is Europe going to fall apart? What's going to happen with the global recovery?"

MARKET REACTION

STOCKS: Stocks add to earlier gains.

BONDS: Treasury debt prices hold earlier losses.

FOREX: Euro extends rally versus dollar.

(Americas Economics and Markets Desk; +1-646 223-6300)

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