US new-home sales fell in December, but 2012 finished as best year for sales since 2009.

Published January 25, 2013

| Associated Press

Sales of new U.S. homes cooled off in December compared with November, but sales for the entire year were the best since 2009.

The Commerce Department says new-home sales fell 7.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 369,000. That's down from November's rate, which was the fastest in 2 ½ years.

For the year, sales rose to 367,000, the most since 2009. Even with the annual gain, sales remain far below the 700,000 level that economists consider healthy.

The housing market began to recover in 2012, helped by steady job gains and record-low mortgage rates.

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