Sales of new single-family homes dropped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 369,000 units in December.

This sales rate is 7.3% below the revised November rate of 398,000 units, but is still 8.8% above the December 2011 estimate of 339,000 units, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development said.

The median sales price of new homes sold rose from $246,200 in November to $248,900 in December. The average December sales price was $304,000, up from $299,700 in November.

At the end of December, the number of new homes for sale reached 151,000 units, representing a 4.9-month supply of homes at today’s sales pace.

"The fall in December's sales rate really brought up supply at the current sales rate, from a seven-year low of 4.5 months to 4.9 months which however is still lean," analysts from Econoday said.

An estimated 367,000 new homes were sold throughout 2012, 19.9% above the 2011 figure of 306,000 homes.

"Trends have emphasized when a surprise report hits like this one. New home sales did fall back and fall back substantially in December, but the curve going into December was pointing sharply higher. Prices are firming in the housing sector, which still looks to be perhaps the biggest story for the 2013 economy. The Dow is moving off opening highs in initial reaction to this report," added Econoday.

Click on the chart below to see new home sales since 2007.