​U.S. home prices rise at a steady clip in December

WASHINGTON - U.S. home prices increased at a steady clip in December, helped by a healthy job market and low mortgage rates.

The Standard& Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 5.7 percent from a year earlier, same as the annual increase in November.

Prices rose 11.4 percent in Portland, Oregon; 10.3 percent in San Francisco and 10.2 percent in Denver. Washington D.C. registered the lowest annual increase, just 1.7 percent.

The index is still more than 11 percent below its mid-2006 peak.

Mortgage rates remain near historic lows more than two months after the Federal Reserve raised short-term interest rates for the first time since 2006. Unemployment has fallen to an eight-year low 4.9 percent.

David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones, said steady price increases would encourage builders to start putting more new homes. Last year, construction companies broke ground on 1.1 million properties, most since 2007.