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U.S. home sales increase in December

The sales of U.S. homes increased in the month of December in 2011.

The sales of U.S. homes increased in the month of December in 2011.

Sales of U.S. homes rose 5 percent in December when compared with figures from a year ago, with a total of 4.61 million units annualized.

BMO Economics and Harris Private Bank released the figures that were slightly below expectations, but still a positive sign that the housing market is showing positive numbers.

"We are seeing some very encouraging signs in the housing sector and rising consumer confidence, all of which is helping to drive this positive trend," said Randy Raup, senior vice president of retail lending at Harris. "With interest rates at historic lows and housing prices appearing to be stabilizing, more consumers have been contacting our branches and mortgage loan officers to determine which of our various mortgage loan products best meet their financial and home ownership goals".

December's gain was the third rise in a row and the highest number of sales since January 2011, according to Doug Porter, deputy chief economist of BMO Economics.

Production of new single-family homes rose 4.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 470,000 units in December, which consumers may take advantage of by packing up and moving to their dream homes.