U.S. pending home sales up 3.5 percent in November

09:13, December 31, 2010      

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The number of sales agreements for previously occupied homes rose in November and outpaced economists' expectation, a leading U.S. industry group reported Thursday.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said its index of pending home sales, which measures the number of contracts to buy previously owned homes that were signed but not yet closed, increased 3.5 percent to a reading of 92.2 in November. Economists had expected a gain of 2 percent.

This index is a leading indicator of future existing home sales, since there is usually a one- to two-month lag between signing a contract and closing a deal.

A reading of 100 indicates that average level of sales activity in 2001, when the index started. The reading was above the 100 threshold from March 2003 through April 2007 and then sank as the country fell into a deep recession caused by the burst of the housing bubble.

Low interest rates and early signs of economic recovery boosted sales, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors.

He also noted that "further gains are needed to reach normal levels of sales activity."

Source: Xinhua

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