The pending home sales index, an index tracking the level of sales contracts on previously owned homes, gained a surprising 7.4% in the month of August, the largest monthly increase since October 2001. Economists were expecting a reading of -1.3%. The index, which is considered a leading indicator of existing home sales, is up 8.8% from the prior year.

Regionally, pending home sales were up in all 4 regions. Sales were up 18.4% in the West, 8.4% in the Northeast, 3.6% in the Midwest, and 2.3% in the South.

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