U.S. Markets

U.S. pending home sales fall in December

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 fell in December, the National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday, in another sign of weakness in the housing market.

The NAR’s pending home sales index decreased to a reading of 99.0, down 2.2 percent from the prior month. November’s index was revised to 101.2 from 101.4.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast pending home sales rising 0.5 percent 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.

U.S. existing home sales tumbled to their lowest level in three years in December and house price increases slowed sharply.Compared to one year ago, pending sales were down 9.8 percent.

Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Andrea Ricci