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September 01, 2020 1:28pm
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Pending home sales eked out small gain in February as mortgage rates rose

Pending home sales climbed 0.8% in February, rising for the third straight month even as higher mortgage rates weighed on consumer demand for new homes.

Signed contracts to buy previously owned homes in the U.S. rose in February for the third straight month, the latest sign of recovery in the housing market.

 The National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday that its pending home sales index climbed 0.8% over the course of February. Economists surveyed by Refinitiv expected contracts to decline by 2.3%. 

"After nearly a year, the housing sector’s contraction is coming to an end," said Lawrence Yun, the chief economist at NAR. "Existing-home sales, pending contracts and new-home construction pending contracts have turned the corner and climbed for the past three months."

However, the housing market has yet to climb out of a deep hole: Sales remain down about 21.1% compared to the same time one year ago.

The interest rate-sensitive housing market has borne the brunt of the Federal Reserve's aggressive campaign to tighten policy and slow the economy. 

Policymakers already lifted the benchmark federal funds rate nine consecutive times and have signaled that a tenth increase is on the table at their May meeting amid signs of underlying inflationary pressures within the economy.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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