In May, pending home sales soared

Pending home sales surged more than expected in May, the latest sign a sluggish recovery is picking up steam.

A gauge of signed contracts for previously owned homes jumped 6.1 percent from April, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. It was the largest pop since April 2010. Then, buyers rushed to lock in a first-time home buyer tax credit before it expired.

After slowing last summer, the housing market appears to be turning a corner. More homes on the market, slowing price appreciation and lower mortgage rates have lured buyers, economists say.

The Realtors’ pending sales index, adjusted for seasonal swings, tracks signed, but not closed contracts for previously owned homes. Deals usually close within one or two months.

May’s pending sales data beat expectations. The median forecast for economists polled by Bloomberg News was for a 1.5 percent rise. And buyers closed deals on 4.9 percent more previously owned homes in May than April. Meanwhile, new home sales jumped 18.6 percent in May.

Southwest starts flying international

From its Texas beginnings 43 years ago, Southwest Airlines Co. has grown to be the largest domestic carrier in the United States. But it has never flown to an airport outside the U.S.

That changes today.

The Dallas-based carrier will launch flights from that city to the Bahamas, Aruba and Jamaica. It adds flights to Cancun and Los Cabos, Mexico, on Aug. 10, and Mexico City and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, on Nov. 2.

— From wire reports