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US pending home sales edge higher in November

[WASHINGTON] Contracts to buy previously owned homes edged higher in November, boosted by job growth across a strengthening economy.

The National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday its pending home sales index rose to a reading of 109.5, up 0.2 per cent from October.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast pending home sales falling 0.4 per cent last month.

Pending home contracts are seen as a forward-looking indicator of the health of the housing market because they become sales one to two months later.

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The housing sector has regained some momentum recently after treading water for much of the year because of a lack of inventory which has driven up prices, and both labor and land shortages.

The US economy grew at its fastest pace in more than two years in the third quarter, powered by robust business spending, while the jobless rate in November held at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent.

Pending sales rose 0.8 per cent in November from the same month of 2016, the first 12-month gain since June. Contracts rose 2.5 per cent in the South from a year earlier. Sales also increased in the Northeast and Midwest while they fell 2.3 per cent in the West.