USA-HOUSING

(Reuters)

Pending Home Sales Rise More than Expected in November

Politics Reuters

Contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes rose only modestly in November, pointing to a still-sluggish housing market despite several months of stronger economic growth and hiring.

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The National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, gained 0.8 percent to 104.8. The NAR also revised its index in October to a slightly lower level.

These contracts become sales after a month or two. Contracts rose in the Northeast, South and West but fell in the Midwest.

The U.S. housing market has been recovering in fits and starts from its near collapse during the 2007-09 recession. The pace of sales suffered a setback in mid-2013 when higher interest rates shocked the market.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast total pending home sales rising 0.5 percent in November from the previously reported level.

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Compared to October of last year, contracts were up 4.1 percent. (Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)