Ahead of the Bell: US home sales

Markets Associated Press

This Thursday, July 28, 2016, photo shows donuts for sale at a Dunkin' Donuts in Edmond, Okla. Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc. is expected to report financial earnings Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) (The Associated Press)

The National Association of Realtors reports on September sales of existing homes Thursday at 10 a.m. Eastern.

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FLAT SALES: Economists expect that sales rebounded a modest 0.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.36 million, according to a survey of forecasters by the data firm FactSet. The August pace of 5.33 million was the lowest since February and marked the second consecutive monthly drop.

PROPERTY SHORTAGE: A shortage of houses for sale is pinching sales and pushing prices higher. The median price of an existing home was $240,200 in August, up 5.1 percent from a year earlier. Also, fewer sellers are putting their homes on the market despite buyer enthusiasm. Inventory has collapsed 10.1 percent from a year ago to 2.04 million homes.

Prospective homebuyers are struggling to find attractive properties in their price range and may be delaying their purchases.

New home sales dropped 7.6 percent in August after surging in July.

Yet historically low mortgage rates and an improving job market have stoked demand even with prices high, and housing has been a bright spot amid weak economic growth for much of this year.