ECONOMY

US pending home sales increased in December

More Americans signed contracts to buy homes in December. The increase possibly reflects more people scrambling to purchase homes as mortgage rates have been rising and increasing the costs of ownership.

The National Association of Realtors says its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index rose 1.6 percent to 107.3, a slight rebound after declining in November. Pending sales rose in the West and South but dipped in the Northeast and Midwest.

Mortgage rates began to surge after Donald Trump's presidential win in November. Average 30-year fixed rate mortgages were 4.19 percent last week, after averaging a low 3.65 percent for all of 2016.

Pending sales contracts are a barometer of future purchases. A sale is typically completed a month or two after a contract is signed.