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U.S. homebuilder Lennar tops Street

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Lennar Corp., (LEN-N), the third-largest U.S. homebuilder, reported a quarterly profit that beat market expectations and said orders rose for the sixth straight quarter.

"Low mortgage rates, affordable home prices [and] increased buyer confidence ... are driving growth in each of our markets," Lennar Chief Executive Stuart Miller said in a statement.

Rival KB Home (KBH-N) reported strong results last week, underlining growing momentum in housing recovery.

Miami-based Lennar said net orders rose 44 percent to 4,198 homes in the quarter that ended in August. Orders are a key indicator for builders, who do not book revenue until they close on a house.

Builders have been able to charge higher prices as buyers take advantage of low interest rates. Mortgage rates touched record lows last week after the Federal Reserve said it would try to bolster the economy by buying housing-related debt.

Average selling prices rose 4 percent to $258,000 US in the third quarter, Lennar said.

Net income attributable to the company rose to $87.1 million, or 40 cents per share, from $20.7 million, or 11 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 34 percent to $1.10 billion.

Analysts on average expected earnings of 28 cents per share, excluding items, on revenue of $1.05 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

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