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US existing home sales hit 18-month high; prices rise

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US home resales surged to their highest level in 18 months in March as inventories improved, a sign of strength in the housing market ahead of the spring selling season.

[WASHINGTON] US home resales surged to their highest level in 18 months in March as inventories improved, a sign of strength in the housing market ahead of the spring selling season.

The National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday existing home sales increased 6.1 per cent to an annual rate of 5.19 million units, the highest level since September 2013. The per cent increase was the largest since December 2010.

February's sales pace was revised up to 4.89 million units from the previously reported 4.88 million units. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast home resales rising to only a 5.03 million-unit pace last month.

The fairly upbeat report was another indication that the economy was regaining some momentum after hitting a speed bump in the first quarter. But data on retail sales, housing starts and manufacturing suggest the rebound in second-quarter growth will probably be insufficient to convince the Federal Reserve to start raising interest rates in June.

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