News Summary: Contracts to buy US homes rose

CONTRACTS RISE: Sales contracts to buy previously occupied homes rose in May from April, suggesting Americans are gaining confidence in the housing market.

THE NUMBERS: The National Association of Realtors' index of sales agreements increased to 101.1 last month, matching the best reading in two years. A reading above 100 is considered healthy.

THE OUTLOOK: The increase supports other data showing steady improvement in the housing market this year. Completed sales of new and previously occupied homes are up over the 12 months. Builders are starting more projects. And prices are rising in most cities.