WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes rose far less than expected in June, another sign that a lack of inventory is crimping activity despite mortgage rates being at near-record lows.
The National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday its pending home sales index, based on contracts signed last month, nudged up 0.2 percent to 111.0.
Economists polled by Reuters forecast pending home sales rising 1.4 percent last month. Contracts usually become sales after one or two months.
The index was 1.0 percent higher than in June 2015. Contracts rose in the Northeast and Midwest last month but fell in the South and West.
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Pending home sales for May were unrevised. The housing market has continued to strengthen amid historically low mortgage rates and almost six years of monthly job gains.
However, a lack of supply has pushed up house prices and offset some of the stimulus of low mortgage rates.
On Tuesday separate data on new single-family home sales showed moderate gains in house prices.
(Reporting by Lindsay Dunsmuir; Editing by Paul Simao)