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Existing home sales drop by 1 percent

WASHINGTON - Existing home sales fell for the eighth time in the past nine months, a string of weakness expected to continue as the housing industry, mired in its worst slump in decades, battles falling home prices, tight lending conditions and a weak economy.

The National Association of Realtors reported Friday that existing home sales dropped by 1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million units, matching the all-time low set in January. These records, which cover single-family homes and condominiums, go back to 1999.

The median price for an existing home dropped 8 percent, compared with a year ago, to $202,300. It was the second largest price decline on record and analysts predicted prices would fall further in the months ahead given the huge backlog of unsold single-family homes.

The number of unsold single-family homes in April rose to a 10.7 months supply at the sales pace, the highest level since June 1985.

'The housing market continues to slide away. The very large increase in inventories suggests that there are much larger price declines coming,' said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average ended a week of big losses by declining further on Friday, falling 145.99 points to close at 12,479.63. It was the Dow's worst week since early February with investors rattled by the relentless rise in energy prices.