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U.S. pending home sales fall

Staff Writer |
Contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes fell for a second straight month in April amid a supply squeeze, but the housing market recovery remains supported by a strong labor market.

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The National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, dropped 1.3 percent to 109.8.

Contracts fell in the Northeast, Midwest and South, but surged 5.8 percent in the West.

Demand for housing is being driven by a tight labor market, marked by a 4.4 percent unemployment rate, which is generating wage increases and boosting employment opportunities for young Americans.

The housing market remains supported by historically low mortgage rates, with the 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaging 3.95 percent, the lowest level since last November.

Sales activity, however, remains constrained by tight inventories, which are driving up home prices. Housing inventory has dropped for 23 straight months on a year-on-year basis.

Home resales declined 2.3 percent in April and could decrease in May as another report on Wednesday showed applications for loans to buy a home fell for a third straight week last week.

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