More Americans signed contracts in March to buy previously owned homes before the expiration of a tax credit that has helped support the housing market.

The index of signed purchase agreements, or pending home resales, rose 5.3%, to 102.9, after gaining 8.3% in February, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday in Washington. Economists had projected a 5% gain, according to the median of forecasts in a Bloomberg survey.

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