Sales of new single-family homes rose sharply in December, helping sales for the year to show a modest increase from 2013, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. Sales of new single-family homes jumped 11.6% in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 481,000. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected an annual rate of 455,000 in December, compared with an originally estimated November rate of 438,000. On Tuesday, the government revised November's rate to 431,000. Sales of new homes in December were up 8.8% from a year earlier. For all of 2014, new-home sales hit 435,000, a 1.2% rise from 429,000 in 2013. Sales remain far below a peak rate of almost 1.4 million in 2005. The median price of new homes hit $298,100 in December, up 8.2% from the year-earlier period. For 2014, the median price hit $283,600, up 5.5% from the prior year. The supply of new homes on the U.S. market fell to 5.5 months in December from 6.0 months in November.
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