Pending sales of existing U.S. homes fell sharply in January, with an industry index dropping to a record low, according to a report on Tuesday that showed the deteriorating economy was keeping buyers on the sidelines.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast pending home sales to fall 3.0 percent in January. December's pending home sales index was revised down to 87.1 from 87.7.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)