[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/LIVING/04/02/foreclosure.dream.homes/art.nicehome.cnn.jpg" caption="A new report shows home sales went up in June."]
CNN Financial News Producer
More Americans signed sales contracts to buy homes in June than in the previous month - another encouraging sign for the embattled housing market.
The National Association of Realtors says its Pending Home Sales Index rose 3.6% in June. That’s the fifth straight month of increases and the longest monthly winning streak since July 2003.
The report followed several other recent pieces of good news for the housing industry, including a substantial rise in new home sales, a jump in existing home sales and the first home price increase in nearly three years.
The Pending Home Sales Index tracks signed contracts to purchase previously-owned homes and is considered a barometer for future home sales. Typically there is a one- to two- month lag between a sales contract and a completed deal.
Personal income tumbles, spending up
Personal income fell in June after surging in the previous month on government stimulus, while spending by individuals increased.
The Commerce Dept. says personal income fell 1.3% in June, compared with a revised 1.3% increase in May, when government stimulus boosted social benefits payments and reduced taxes.
The June decrease was the largest drop in personal spending since January 2005, when incomes fell 2.3%. Excluding the impact of the government's economic stimulus, incomes eased 0.1% in June and were essentially flat in May.
Consumer bankruptcies jump 34%
Consumer bankruptcies surged in July to the highest level since October 2005 as American households struggle under the burden of past debt and rising unemployment.
Total filings reached 126,434 in July, a more than 34% increase from the same period a year ago and a nearly 9% increase over June, according to a report released by the American Bankruptcy Institute.
The number of filings was the highest monthly total since the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act went into effect in October 2005.
Gallery: Top 10 "clunkers" cars
Finally, we reported Monday that Ford saw a modest increase in July domestic sales - the first monthly sales gain for a major automaker since the financial crisis began. Ford credited the “Cash for Clunkers” program for the boost.
And when it comes to “Clunkers,” Ford benefited from its past sins. The automaker says the vehicle most often traded in was its once popular Explorer SUV, the very vehicle that kicked off the SUV craze in the 1990s.
No doubt many of those Explorer owners remained loyal Ford customers. That’s likely one of the reasons the Ford Focus is the most purchased car under the program.
See the Top 10 most purchased cars under the program here.
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