NEW YORK, Jan 26 (Reuters) – New U.S. single-family home sales in December rose to their highest level in eight months and prices were the highest since April 2008, raising cautious optimism for a housing market recovery.
KEY POINTS:
*   The Commerce Department said sales jumped 17.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted 329,000 unit annual rate after a downwardly revised 280,000-unit pace in November.
*   Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales rising to a 300,000-unit pace in December from a previously reported 290,000 unit rate.
*   Compared to December last year, sales were down 7.6 percent. Overall 2010 sales dropped 14.4 percent to a record 321,000-unit rate.
*   Data last week showed a surge in sales of previously owned home in December, but progress could be frustrated by a glut of homes from an unrelenting wave of foreclosures. The housing market has remained on the margins even as the broader economy shows signs of gaining strength and broadening out.

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