WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes rose for a fourth straight month in April to a nine-year high, buoying the outlook for the housing market.
The National Association of Realtors said on Thursday its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, increased 3.4 percent to 112.4, the highest level since May 2006.
These contracts become sales after a month or two, and last month's increase pointed to a pick-up in home resales after they lost momentum in April. Economists had forecast pending home sales rising 0.9 percent last month.
Pending home sales increased 14.0 percent from a year ago, the largest year-on-year increase since September 2012.
Contracts surged 10.1 percent in the Northeast and increased 5.0 percent in the Midwest. They rose 2.3 percent in the South and gained 0.1 percent in the West.
Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci