Pending sales of existing U.S. homes rose modestly in February but the market is still weak in the face of continued declines in home values and a recession, a realty trade group said on Wednesday.

The National Association of Realtors Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in February, was up 2.1 percent to 82.1 from an index of 80.4 in January.

Economists polled by Reuters ahead of the report were expecting pending home sales to rise by 1.0 percent.

Pending home sales have a way to go for there to be a meaningful increase, said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.

(Reporting by Patrick Rucker; Editing by Andrea Ricci)