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Summary Box: Contract signings for US homes down

The Associated Press

CONTRACTS DOWN: The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy U.S. homes fell a slight 0.5 percent in February to a reading of 96.5, the National Association of Realtors said Monday.

GOOD READING: January's reading of 97 was the highest since April 2010. A reading of 100 is considered healthy. Economists expect sales to increase between March and June.

MIXED SIGNALS: More signings in recent months are among the signs of a modest pick-up in the housing market. But analysts said February's decline was disappointing after the best three months of hiring in two years.