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Washington (AFP) — U.S. pending home sales rebounded last month to their highest levels in nearly a year, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday, in report providing further evidence of a steadying housing market.

The NAR’s pending home sales index surged 3.3 percent in July to 105.9, its highest level since August 2013.

The increase in the forward-looking indicator, which is based on contract signings, came in much stronger than expected. The average estimate was for a modest 0.5 percent rise.

Pending home sales have climbed in four of the past five months. The June decline in pending home sales was steeper than first thought, with the drop revised to 1.3 percent from 1.1 percent.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said that favorable housing conditions spurred increased contract activity last month.

“Interest rates are lower than they were a year ago, price growth continues to moderate and total housing inventory is at its highest level since August 2012,” he said.

“More importantly, steady job additions to the economy are helping family finances and giving them added confidence to enter the market.”

Compared with a year ago, July pending home sales were down 2.1 percent.

Yun projected sales of existing homes, the largest part of the housing market, to be down 2.1 percent this year to 4.98 million, compared with 5.09 million sales in 2013.

AFP Photo/Justin Sullivan

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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The baseless claim that the FBI may have planted evidence while carrying out a court-approved search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence on Monday has surged through right-wing media, as the former president’s allies continue their effort to turn their audiences against the probe and shield Trump from accountability.

The FBI searched the premises after obtaining a warrant from a federal magistrate judge and “removed a number of boxes of documents” as part of a federal investigation into whether Trump had illegally “taken a trove of material with him to his home at Mar-a-Lago when he left the White House that included sensitive documents – and then, in the Justice Department’s view, had failed to fully comply with requests that he return the disputed material,” the New York Times reported. Politico concluded after consulting with legal experts on the handling of classified documents that “it’s highly unlikely the DOJ would have pursued – and a judge would have granted – such a politically explosive search warrant without extraordinary evidence.”

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