width=342WASHINGTON  - Sales of newly built single-family homes unexpectedly fell to a record low in January, according to government data on Wednesday that hinted at potential trouble for the fragile housing market recovery.

The Commerce Department said sales dropped 11.2 percent to a 309,000 unit annual rate, the lowest level since records started in January 1963, from an upwardly revised 348,000 in December.

It was the third straight month that new home sales fell and the percentage decline in January was the largest in a year.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected new home sales to increase to a 360,000 unit annual pace from December's previously reported 342,000 units.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by James Dalgleish)