U.S. sales of previously occupied homes rose to a three-year high in February and prices jumped, a private group said Thursday in a report that provides further evidence of a sustained housing recovery that is benefiting the broader economy. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said existing-home sales increased 0.8 percent to an annual rate of 4.98 million units last month, the highest level since November 2009. The February sales pace was 10.2 percent higher than the same month a year earlier. The NAR said the median price for a home sold in February rose and now is up 11.6 percent from a year ago. The increase in February home resales was the latest indication that the housing-market recovery was accelerating. Data earlier this week showed builders began more projects in February and permits for future construction neared a five-year high. Steady hiring and near-record-low mortgage rates also have helped support sales and home prices in most markets.