US home sales edge upwards

Pending sales of previously owned US homes edged up as expected in December, a survey showed yesterday, which should help to calm fears of renewed weakness in the troubled housing sector. But the housing recovery remains slow and painful, with other data showing the percentage of empty privately owned homes rose to 2.7 per cent in the final three months of 2009 from 2.6 per cent in the third quarter. The National Association of Realtors’ Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in December, rose 1.0 per cent to 96.6 after falling sharply in November when a boost from the initial tax credit for first-time buyers ebbed.