October 25, 2018 / 3:20 PM / 20 days ago

U.S. pending home sales rise 0.5 percent in September

A "For Sale" sign is seen outside a home in Cardiff, California February 22, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Contracts to buy previously owned homes unexpectedly rose in September, a bright mark in the United States’ struggling housing market although contracts on an annual basis have fallen for nine consecutive months.

The National Association of Realtors said on Thursday its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, rose 0.5 percent to a reading of 104.6. The previous month’s reading was revised slightly lower.

Economists had forecast pending home sales falling 0.1 percent in September.

Contracts were 1.0 percent lower than in September 2017.

Pending home contracts become sales after a month or two and are therefore seen as a good indicator of future existing home sales.

In September, contracts rose 4.5 percent in the West and 1.2 percent in the Midwest. They were down 1.4 percent in the South and 0.4 percent in the Northeast.

Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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