Pending home sales in the US increased by two per cent in December, as November’s increase was revised down to 3.1 per cent. The rise – reported by the National Association of Realtors – was double the rate forecast by economists. “It looks like an improving trend, but with the glut in existing homes, housing won’t be a significant contributor to GDP this year,” said Jim O’Sullivan of MF Global. Meanwhile US durable goods orders fell by 2.5 per cent in December, greater than the predicted fall of 1.5 per cent. However, Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics described the figures as “very suspicious looking” after non-defence aircraft orders were shown plunging by 99.5 per cent. He described the statistic, released by the US commerce department, as “nonsense.” The weekly jobless claims data showed an increase of 51,000, although the rise was blamed on seasonal volatility and snow.