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US pending home sales rise 0.2 percent

Signed contracts to buy existing homes rose slightly in November, breaking a five-month negative streak, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Pending homes sales ticked 0.2 percent higher from a downwardly revised reading in October but are still down 1.6 percent below November 2012, the association reported. These signed contracts are an indicator of closed sales in December and January.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast signed contracts to rise 1 percent in November.

Despite the soft ending to 2013, Lawrence Yun, the association's chief economist, said that 2013 will end with the best sales total in seven years.

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"We may have reached a cyclical low because the positive fundamentals of job creation and household formation are likely to foster a fairly stable level of contract activity in 2014," Yun said.

Regionally, the South and West saw monthly increases in pending home sales while the Northeast and Midwest posted decreases.

As this year draws to a close, Yum expects higher mortgage rates coupled with strong price increases to lead to more modest growth in values in 2014.

This year, total existing home sales are forecast to gain nearly 10 percent to about 5.1 million—a number that's expected to repeat in 2014.

The national medium existing home price rose about 12 percent this year. In 2014, prices are expected to rise more moderately at about 5 to 5.5 percent, according to the association.

—By CNBC's Katie Little. Follow her on Twitter @KatieLittle.

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  • Diana Olick serves as CNBC's real estate correspondent as well as the editor of the Realty Check section on CNBC.com.

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