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Housing sales continue to build

New York — Undeterred by war fears, a persistently weak jobs outlook and increasingly credit-poor consumers, the broad U.S. housing market closed out the year on a remarkably resilient note, with all sectors climbing substantially higher during December.

Sales of existing homes, by far the largest slice of the housing pie, rebounded from weakness the month before and climbed by 5.0 percent, to a seasonally adjusted level of 5.6 million units. And measured against a year ago, sales shot up by 12.7 percent from a level of 5,2 million units, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported.

Building on a November gain of almost 4 percent, sales of new homes rose by another 3.5 percent in December, to a seasonally adjusted 1.1 million units. Measured on a year-over-year basis, new home sales advanced by 10.5 percent.

In a measure of rock-solid builder confidence, housing starts jumped up by 5.0 percent over November levels, to a seasonally adjusted 1.9 million units. Remarkably, starts rocketed up by 15.9 percent over the December 2002 reading.

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