Contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes rose more than expected in September, another sign of the underlying momentum in the housing market.
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The National Association of Realtors said on Thursday its pending home sales index, based on contracts signed last month, increased 1.5 percent to 110.0 following a drop in August.
The index was 2.4 percent higher than in September 2015, the NAR said.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast pending home sales would rise 1.2 percent last month. The pending home sales index for August was revised slightly lower to 108.4.
Across the nation's four regions, contracts jumped 4.7 percent in the West and also rose in the South. They fell 1.6 percent in the Northeast and edged down in the Midwest.
Separate data last week showed that U.S. home resales surged in September after two straight months of declines as first-time buyers stepped into the market.
(Reporting by Lindsay Dunsmuir; Editing by Andrea Ricci)