CHICAGO, Dec 23 - Chicago Mercantile Exchange lumber futures closed a little higher in nearbys on Wednesday as the market showed little direction going into the holiday, traders said.
* Prices range uneven during the day with the slow housing market continuing to weigh while support came from futures holding in line with cash.
* Sales of newly built U.S. single-family homes unexpectedly fell 11.3 percent to 355,000 unit annual rate in November, their lowest level in seven months, Commerce Department said. [ID:nN2277248]
* Analysts polled by Reuters had expected new home sales to increase to a 440,000 annual pace.
* Although Random Lengths quoted the cash spruce price down $2 at $210 per thousand board feet (tbf), the decline had been expected.
* January lumber 2LBF0 closed up 20 cents at $209.90 per tbf and March 2LBH0 was up 20 cents at $238.80.
* Overall sales were spotty at best as most buyers and sellers coasted into the year-end holidays. Some had already made their exits by Tuesday, Random Lengths said.
* While a number of mills were sold through the remainder of the year, some producers sought orders for residual 2009 production, and opened to counters to move it. Winter arrived with a vengeance across the Midwest and into the East, leaving key markets blanketed in deep snow with more on the way, the reporting agency said. (Reporting by Jerry Bieszk; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)