Sales of U.S. previously owned homes rose in August to the second-lowest level on record, indicating housing remains depressed a year after the economic recovery began.

Purchases of existing houses climbed to a 4.13 million annual pace, in line with the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, and second only to July's 3.84 million rate as the weakest in a decade's worth of data, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday.

"It's still a really bad number," said Patrick Newport, an economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Mass. "The economy has weakened and we need more jobs. Interest rates are really low. It's just not prodding people into buying homes."

Compared with a year earlier, existing home sales were down 17% before adjusting for seasonal patterns. The median price increased 0.8%, to $178,600 last month from August 2009.

The number of previously owned homes on the market fell 0.6%, to 3.98 million.

At the current sales pace, it would take 11.6 months to sell those houses, compared with 12.5 months in July, which was the highest since at least 1999.

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