March had first increase in home contracts since June

More Americans signed contracts to buy homes in March, the first increase since June and a sign that the housing market might pick up after a sluggish start to the year.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its seasonally adjusted pending home-sales index rose 3.4 percent to 97.4 last month. Still, the index remains 8 percentage points below its level a year ago.

Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases: A one- to two-month lag usually exists between a signed contract and a completed sale.

The gain partly reflects a recovery from a harsh winter that kept many potential buyers away from open houses in January and February.

To foster communications, Toyota moving HQ to Texas

Toyota is moving its U.S. headquarters from California to Texas in a bid to improve communication among units now spread over several states.

Toyota will break ground this year on a new, environmentally friendly headquarters in Plano, about 25 miles north of Dallas. Small groups of employees will start moving to temporary office space there this year, but most will not move until late 2016 or early 2017.

The new campus will bring together about 4,000 employees from sales, marketing, engineering, manufacturing and finance currently in California and Kentucky.

Frontier Airlines adds fee for bin use and cuts fares

Passengers beware: More airline fees are on the way.

Frontier Airlines says its passengers will now have to pay extra to place carry-on bags in the overhead bin or for advance seat assignments.

The move comes as the Denver-based airline tries to transform itself into a fee-dependent airline, similar to Spirit Airlines or Allegiant Air – the only other U.S. carriers to charge such fees. Frontier says that in exchange for these new fees, it is lowering its base fare by an average of 12 percent.

It is the latest airline to promise to change the way we fly by offering cheap base fares but then adding on a bevy of additional fees.

– From news service reports