Sales of new U.S. single-family homes jumped in December, unwinding the prior month's decline, but the overall trend remained consistent with a gradual housing market improvement.
The Commerce Department said on Tuesday that sales increased 11.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 481,000 units. November's sales pace was revised down to 431,000 units from 438,000 units.
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Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales rising to a 450,000-unit pace last month.
New home sales, which account for about 8 percent of the housing market, moved sideways for much of 2014, with a total of 435,000 homes sold compared with 429,000 in 2013.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)