Existing home sales rose more than expected in January

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Existing home sales rose in January, beating the forecast for a decline, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Sales of existing condos, co-ops and single-family houses rose 0.4% at an annual rate of 5.47 million. It was the fastest rate in six months.

Compared to the prior year, sales increased 11%, the biggest gain since July 2013.

Economists had estimated that sales fell 2.5% at an annualized pace of 5.32 million, according to Bloomberg.

In the release, NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said, "The housing market has shown promising resilience in recent months, but home prices are still rising too fast because of ongoing supply constraints. Despite the global economic slowdown, the housing sector continues to recover and will likely help the U.S. economy avoid a recession."

In December, existing home sales rose from a 19-month low with the biggest gain ever recorded in the history of the series. But this was revised lower to a 12.1% gain at an annual rate of 5.45 million.

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