Home prices rose in February by most in 7 years

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WASHINGTON U.S. home prices jumped in February by the largest amount in seven years, evidence that the housing recovery strengthened ahead of the all-important spring-buying season.

Home prices rose 10.2 percent in February compared with a year earlier, the biggest annual gain since March 2006. Prices have now increased on an annual basis for 12 straight months, underscoring the recovery's steady momentum.

The gains were broad-based. Prices rose in 47 of 50 states and in all but four of the nation's 100 largest metro areas. Delaware, Alabama and Illinois were the only states to report price declines.

A measure of national prices also rose 0.5 percent in February from January. That's a solid increase during the winter months, when sales typically slow.

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