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Contracts for US homes dipped in February

The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy U.S. homes dipped in February from nearly a two-year high.

The National Association of Realtors says its index of sales agreements declined 0.5 percent last month to a reading of 96.5. January's reading of 97 was the highest since April 2010, the last month buyers could qualify for a federal home-buying tax credit. A reading of 100 is considered healthy.

Contract signings typically indicate where the housing market is headed. There's a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed deal.

More signings are among recent signs of a slight pick-up in the housing market. January and February made up the best winter for re-sales in five years, when the housing crisis began. And builders are more confident.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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