New home sales in the U.S. in December climbed to 329,000 on annual basis, official data showed on Wednesday, suggesting that the housing market remained moderately robust despite an unsustainable unemployment rate and high foreclosures.

The December figures were the highest level since the expiry of a federal tax credit in April last year.

Economists had forecast sales of new single-family houses would hit 300,000 for December against 290,000 in the previous month. According to the Commerce Department data, new home sales had risen 5.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted 290,000 units on an annual basis in November.

A Bloomberg survey of economists had estimated that new home sales, a timely barometer of the housing market, climbed 3.5 percent to 300,000 annually in December.