US pending home sales fell 2.6 percent in August

Fewer people signed contracts to buy homes in August, marking the fifth decline in the past six months. The 2.6 percent decline continues to reflect the worsening shortage nationwide of homes being listed for sale.

The National Association of Realtors says that its pending home sales index fell to 106.3 in August from 109.1 in July. It's the index's lowest point since a 106.1 reading in January of 2016.

The Realtors say Hurricanes Harvey and Irma had a particularly negative impact in the South, where pending sales contracts declined 7.8 percent. Pending sales fell 3.1 percent in the Northeast, but ticked up slightly in the Midwest and West.

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