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Strong housing news drive up shares in builders

NEW YORK (AP) -- More good news from the housing market shot housing stocks up Tuesday.

The government reported that new-home sales jumped in January to the highest level since July 2008. Home prices also increased in December, pushed higher by more sales and a shrinking supply of houses for sale. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 6.8 percent in December compared with the same month a year earlier.

Housing stocks surged after the two reports came out. PulteGroup jumped 4 percent, or 66 cents, to $18.68. Lennar Corp rose 2 percent, or 62 cents, to $37.28.

The Commerce Department said that new-home sales rose nearly 16 percent in January to an annual rate of 437,000. That's the largest percentage increase in nearly 20 years.

Steady job creation and near-record-low mortgage rates have lured more Americans into the housing market.

Here's how some other builders were trading Tuesday:

— The Ryland Group, up 2 percent, or 61 cents to $34.26.

— Hovnanian Enterprises, up 5 percent, or 25 cents to $5.45.

— KB Home, up 3 percent, or 57 cents to $17.71.

— D.R. Horton gained 2 percent, or 46 cents to $21.84.