US home prices accelerated in December 2016 at the swiftest pace since January of that year, according to a closely watched reported released on Tuesday.

Home prices in 20 major US metropolitan areas were up 5.6 per cent in December from the previous year, up from growth of 5.2 per cent in November, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller report. Wall Street economists projected a slimmer rise to 5.4 per cent.

“With all 20 cities seeing prices rise over the last year, questions about whether this is a normal housing market or if prices could be heading for a fall are natural,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indicesm which compiles the report.

However, he said that adjusting for inflation, “the speed is not alarming”.

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