USA-ECONOMY-HOUSING

(Reuters)

Pending Home Sales Rise 0.2% in October

Politics Dow Jones Newswires

The number of existing homes that went under contract in the U.S. inched up in October, a sign the housing market remains stable heading into the final months of the year.

An index measuring pending home sales--a gauge of purchases before they become final--rose 0.2% to a seasonally adjusted reading of 107.7 in October, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had predicted a 1.5% increase in October sales. September's reading was revised to a 1.6% decline from an initially estimated 2.3% drop. The index peaked for the year in May and has mostly edged down since.

It typically takes a month or two for a home purchase to be completed. When the sale is finalized, it is registered in the Realtors' more closely watched existing-home sales report. That report showed sales of previously owned homes, roughly 90% of the overall housing market, reached a post-recession peak of a 5.58 million annual pace in July, and hovered slightly below that level this fall.

Write to Eric Morath at eric.morath@wsj.com

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