WRAPUP 1-Signs of recovery? U.S. business activity and home sales surge

By Dan Burns

Aug 21 (Reuters) – In signs an economic recovery may be picking up speed, U.S. home sales rose at a record rate for a second straight month in July, and purchasing managers in both the manufacturing and services sectors report business activity has accelerated at a brisker-than-expected pace this month.

With mortgage rates holding near record lows and a work-from-home trend apparently enticing many Americans to move further from city centers, the National Association of Realtors said on Friday sales of existing homes rose 24.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.86 million units last month from 4.7 million in June.

Home prices also shot to a record $304,100, and a shortage of inventory is making competition for houses fierce. The average time on the market fell to 22 days in July, a record low, from 24 in June, and nearly 70% sold in less than

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