WASHINGTON — U.S. home prices jumped by the most in 6½ years in December, spurred by a low supply of available homes and rising demand.

Home prices rose 8.3 percent in December compared with a year earlier, according to a report Tuesday from CoreLogic, a real estate data provider. That is the biggest annual gain since May 2006.

Home prices also rose 0.4 percent in December from the previous month. That’s a healthy increase given that sales usually slow in winter.

Steady increases in prices are helping fuel the housing recovery. They’re encouraging some people to sell homes and enticing would-be buyers to purchase before prices rise further.

Most economists expect prices to keep rising this year. Sales of previously occupied homes reached their highest level in five years in 2012 and will likely keep growing. Homebuilders broke ground on the most new dwellings in four years last year.

Ultra-low mortgage rates and steady job gains have fueled more demand for houses and apartments. .

“All signals point to a continued improvement in the fundamentals underpinning the U.S. housing market recovery,” said Anand Nallathambi, CEO of CoreLogic.

The states with the biggest price gains were Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, California and Hawaii.

The states where prices fell were Delaware, Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.