Contract signings to purchase previously owned homes rose by more than forecast in January, snapping a six-month streak of declines and suggesting lower mortgage rates along with a strong job market are helping stabilize demand.

The index of pending home sales rose 4.6%, after a 2.3% decline the previous month, according to data released Wednesday from the National Association of Realtors in Washington. That compared with the median projection of analysts for an increase of 1%. The gauge was down 3.2% from a year earlier.

Bloomberg News

The improvement signals buyers are returning to the market to take advantage of

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