width=239Sales of previously owned U.S. homes fell less than expected in February, according to a trade group report on Tuesday that underscored the fragile nature of the housing market's recovery.

The National Association of Realtors said sales fell 0.6 percent month-over-month to an annual rate of 5.02 million units. January's sales were unrevised at 5.05 million units. It was the third straight month of declines in sales.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected February sales to drop to a 5 million-unit pace from the previously reported 5.05 million units in January. Compared to February last year, home sales were 7.0 percent higher.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by James Dalgleish)