Signed contracts to buy U.S. homes rose more than forecast in March as low interest rates drew buyers back into the market. The index of pending home purchases rose 4.1 percent to 101.4, the highest level since April 2010, after a 0.4 percent gain in February that was revised from a previously estimated 0.5 percent drop, the National Association of Realtors reported. The median forecast of 43 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a 1 percent rise in the measure, which tracks contracts on previously owned homes. An improved labor market and mortgage rates near historic lows are helping to stabilize housing. “It’s good news,” said Sean Incremona, senior economist at 4Cast Inc. in New York. “It does suggest that improvement in the housing market is continuing.” Compared with a year earlier, March pending home sales climbed 10.8 percent after a 14.9 percent surge in February. [Read this article]
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