Contracts for pending sales of previously owned homes rose faster than expected in December after the prior month's sales were revised lower, data from a real estate trade group said on Thursday.
KEY POINTS: * The National Association of Realtors Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in December, was up 2 percent to 93.7 from a downwardly revised reading of 91.9 in November. * Economists polled by Reuters had expected pending home sales to rise by 1.0 percent. The index has risen in five of the last six months, though it is still 4.2 percent lower than the 97.8 level of a year ago.
DAVID SLOAN, ECONOMIST WITH IFR ECONOMICS, A UNIT OF THOMSON REUTERS
The rise is not strong enough to imply December's 12.3 percent surge in existing home sales will be extended in the near term, with a correction lower in that series looking more likely. Pending home sales are designed to lead existing home sales.
RUDY NARVAS, SENIOR ECONOMIST, SOCIETE GENERALE, NEW YORK:
It was better than expected, it looks like most of the strength was in the midwest and the south, although there was a bit of a pullback in the west. Overall it is a pretty good number despite the fact that the previous month was downwardly revised. Recent housing data has been on the positive side.
MARKET REACTION: STOCKS: U.S. stock indexes were little changed BONDS: U.S. Treasury bond prices FOREX: The dollar barely moved.