Contracts for pending sales of previously owned U.S. homes rose faster than expected in November, though sales remained below "normal" activity levels, a real estate trade group said on Thursday.
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The National Association of Realtors Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in November, rose 3.5 percent to 92.2 from a downwardly revised 89.1 in October. The index showed sales were 5 percent lower than the 97.0 reading in November of last year.
Economists polled by Reuters ahead of the report were expecting pending home sales to rise 2 percent.
Lawrence Yun, the association's chief economist, said low interest rates and early signs of economic recovery boosted sales, "but further gains are needed to reach normal levels of sales activity."