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    Pending sales of US homes slip but remain solid

    Even as pending sales slipped, analysts remain positive.
    AFP/Getty Images
    Even as pending sales slipped, analysts remain positive.

    WASHINGTON — Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy US homes in July, but the level stayed close to a 6½-year high. The modest decline suggests higher mortgage rates have yet to sharply slow sales.

    The National Association of Realtors says its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales declined 1.3 percent to 109.5. That’s close to May’s reading of 111.3, which was the highest since December 2006.

    The small decline suggests sales of previously owned homes should remain healthy in the coming months.

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    Final sales jumped to an annual pace of 5.4 million in July, the highest in 3 ½ years, the Realtors said last week. That’s consistent with a healthy housing market.

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    Higher mortgage rates appeared to have had a bigger impact on new-home sales, which plummeted last month. That raised fears that rate increases were restraining the housing recovery.

    But many economists note that home prices and mortgage rates remain low by historical standards. Consistent job gains and rising consumer confidence may also support sales in the coming months.