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    US Pending Home Sales Rise

    Americans signed more contracts to buy existing properties in April than expected. The monthly "pending" home sales index from the National Association of Realtors rose 3.4 percent from March to the highest level in nine years. Economists had forecast a 0.9 percent gain. Pending sales are now 14 percent ahead of where they were a year ago.

    Mortgage rates were largely unchanged in April and were not a major factor in sales. But the cost of a 30-year fixed rate real estate loan has moved sharply higher since the beginning of the month.

    The average rate on the the most common 30-year fixed mortgage was around  3.65 percent last month, relatively low. he same loan is now  closer to 4 percent.

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