Sales of existing homes fell 4.3 percent in 1990 as the faltering U.S. economy and uncertainty over the Mideast took their toll on the housing industry, figures compiled by a real estate trade group showed.

The National Association of Realtors said sales of previously owned single-family homes totaled just 3.29 million in 1990, compared to 3.44 million a year earlier. It was the lowest number of sales since 3.21 million homes were bought in 1985.Many analysts expect sales of both new and existing homes to pick up by midyear.