First annual gain in new US home sales since 2009

First annual gain in new US home sales since 2005

US new home sales fell in December but posted first annual gain since 2009.

The US Commerce Department said new-home sales fell 7.3% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 369,000. That's down from November's rate, which was the fastest in over 2 years.

For the year, sales rose to 367,000, the most since 2009. Even with the annual gain, sales remain far below the 700,000 level that economists consider healthy.

The housing market began to recover in 2012, helped by steady job gains and record-low mortgage rates.