U.S. pending home sales rise more than expected in December
The NAR's monthly index rose 1.6% to 109.0 from 107.3 in November and is now 0.3% above last December's 108.7. Economists had been expecting the index to rise a more modest 1.1%.
The NAR's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said: "Pending sales rebounded last month as enough buyers fended off rising mortgage rates and alarmingly low inventory levels1 to sign a contract.
"The main storyline in the early months of 2017 will be if supply can meaningfully increase to keep price growth at a moderate enough level for households to absorb higher borrowing costs.
"Sales will struggle to build on last year's strong pace if inventory conditions don't improve."
The pending home sales index in the Northeast fell 1.6% to 96.4 in December and is now 1.2% below a year ago. In the Midwest, the index was down 0.8% to 102.7 and is now 3.4% lower than December 2015.
In the South, pending home sales rose 2.4% to 121.3 in December and are now 0.5% above last December, while sales in the West jumped 5% to 106.1, up 5% on a year ago. ■