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Pending Home Sales Rebound In July, Builders' Stocks Unmoved

John Seward

Pending home sales rebounded in July, although housing-related stocks responded with continued down ticks.

A closely watched measure of sales contract signings climbed 3.3 percent in July from June, but remains 2.1 percent below the level of a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Analysts expected contract signings to gain 0.5 percent in July.

But three housing-related exchange-traded funds were down Thursday: SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (NYSE: XHB) fell 0.85 percent; U.S. Home Construction ETF (NYSE: ITB) was off 0.2 percent and PowerShares Dynamic Building & Construction Portfolio (NYSE: PKB) dropped 0.3 percent.

Yet the National Association of Realtors' pending home sales index is at its highest level since August 2013, and is above what's considered an average level of contract activity for the third consecutive month.

"Interest rates are lower than they were a year ago, price growth continues to moderate and total housing inventory is at its highest level since August 2012," said the real estate group's economist Lawrence Yun.

But on Monday, the Commerce Department reported a 2.4 percent decline in July new home sales to an annual rate of 412,000.

On the other hand, the National Association of Realtors said last week that existing home sales grew 2.4 percent in July.

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