SALES UP: Home sales rose in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million, according to National Association of Realtors. That's the fastest pace in nearly a year.
BRIGHTER OUTLOOK: A third straight monthly sales gain coincided with other signs of improvement for the troubled U.S. housing market. Mortgage rates are low, homebuilders are more hopeful and home construction has picked up.
LEVELS STILL DEPRESSED: For the entire year, sales totaled just 4.26 million. That's well below the 6 million that economists equate with healthy housing markets.