Existing Home Sales Make Surprise Increase

Sales of previously owned U.S. homes rose unexpectedly in January, but prices fell to their lowest level in nearly nine years, an industry group said on Wednesday.

The National Association of Realtors said sales climbed 2.7% month over month to an annual rate of 5.36 million units from a downwardly revised 5.22 million pace.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected January sales to fall 2.1% to a 5.24 million-unit pace from the previously reported 5.28 million units in December.

Compared with January last year, sales were up 5.3 percent. The median home price fell 3.7% from a year-ago to $158,800, the lowest since April 2002.