The latest pending home sales report showed continued weakness in the U.S. housing sector, with sales down much more than expected.

The National Association of Realtors revealed Tuesday morning that pending home sales fell 7.7% in January, after unexpectedly rebounding in December.

Economists were expecting a 3.5% decline in the month. December's gain was also revised down to 4.8% from an initially reported 6.3% increase.

Pending home sales are real estate contracts that have been signed but not finalized, and are used to predict existing home sales.

Existing home sales in January fell 5.3%, against expectations for a 1.1% increase.

Other housing data released recently showed new home sales fell to an annualized pace of 309k in January, a 10.2% decline from December. Economists were expecting a 2.1% fall.

By Stephen Huebl and edited by Megan Ainscow
©CEP News Ltd. 2009