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Home prices make strong gains

Home prices across the U.S. posted sizable increases in December, indicating the housing recovery gained momentum at the end of last year.

The widely followed Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index was up 0.2% from the prior month and 6.8% year-over-year. A broader quarterly index also released Tuesday by S&P;/Case-Shiller showed national home prices up 7.3% on the year.

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“Home prices ended 2012 with solid gains,” David M. Blitzer, chairman of S&P;’s index committee, said in a statement. “Housing and residential construction led the economy in the 2012 fourth quarter.”

Nineteen out of the 20 metro areas covered by the index posted year-over-year gains, with only New York falling. California cities also posted strong increases. San Diego rose 9.2%, Los Angeles was up 10.2% and San Francisco gained 14.4%.

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