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Falling mortgage rates are giving a lift to U.S. homebuilders just in time for the key spring selling season.

Lennar Corp. reported that orders jumped 24 percent to 10,463 in the quarter ended Feb. 28. The company said order growth exceeded the high end of its guidance by 5 percent. But deliveries fell short because of weather issues "across the country." KB Home, which reported earnings after the market closed yesterday, had a slight drop in orders, which were still better than expected. Company executives said they plan to open 35 new communities in the second quarter.

Mortgage applications for home purchases jumped 4 percent from a year earlier, a sign that the spring season is off to a good start, according to data released today by the Mortgage Bankers Association.
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