The single-family housing market held steady at 6.58 in the fourth quarter, according to Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corp.'s national Market Trends Index.The index was down from 6.70 a year earlier. The company looked at 73 metropolitan statistical areas and found six to be strong, nine weak, and the rest stable. "Overall, the national housing market is still considered stable," said Neil Siegel, senior market analyst for the Milwaukee-based mortgage insurer. "With home price appreciation slowing versus a year ago, existing-home sales recorded a double-digit gain. This helped keep the supply of existing homes low -- in the range of four to five months." The index uses a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the strongest. MGIC said a reading of 6 to 8 indicates a stable market. MGIC can be found on the Web at http://www.mgic.com.

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