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Pending home sales fall to lowest level since October 2011

A "for sale" sign is seen outside a home in New York June 19, 2012. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
A "for sale" sign is seen outside a home in New York June 19, 2012. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of contracts to buy previously-owned U.S. homes fell in February to the lowest level in more than two years, a sign the housing sector has yet to shake off the impact of higher interest rates and a harsh winter.

The National Association of Realtors said on Thursday its pending home sales index, based on contracts signed last month, fell 0.8 percent to 93.9 in February. That was the lowest level since October 2011.

Interest rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have risen about a percentage point since May, while much of the United States has experienced an unusually cold and snowy winter.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the realtors group, said the drag from bad weather was likely to reverse itself soon.

"Some weather-delayed transactions should close in the spring," he said in a statement.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Paul Simao)

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