NEW YORK – U.S. single-family home prices picked up in December, closing out 2012 with the biggest yearly gain in more than six years as the housing market got back on its feet, a closely watched survey showed on Tuesday.
The S&P/Case Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas rose 0.9 percent in December on a seasonally adjusted basis, topping expectations for a gain of 0.5 percent.
On a non-adjusted basis, prices were up 0.2 percent.
"Home prices ended 2012 with solid gains," David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a statement.
"Housing and residential construction (led) the economy in the 2012 fourth quarter."
Prices in the 20 cities jumped 6.8 percent year-over-year, ahead of expectations for 6.6 percent and the best yearly gain since July 2006.
For the final quarter of the year, prices gained 2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis. (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)