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LONDON - Property investors smarting from this year's housing bust in the United States might do well to look farther afield - even out of this world.

Internet searches for lunar land prices show the cost of buying an acre of the moon's surface has risen 40 per cent since the start of 2007, investment bank UBS told clients in a tongue-in-cheek analysis.

Lacing a year-end note with caveats, and not a little holiday cheer, UBS strategists said their "esoteric research" of archived news reports suggests lunar property trends may even be a leading indicator of US house prices.

Rising sharply between 1997 and 2001, the cost of a slice of land on the moon suffered a mid-cycle retreat in 2002-03 after the dot.com bubble burst, the bank said.

But prices defied gravity to hit record highs of US$37 ($50) per acre in December 2005 - nine months before US housing peaked.

- REUTERS