The National Association of Realtors’ Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator, rose 2.1% to 90.8, based on contracts signed in February 2011, from 88.9 in January. That is the good news. The bad news is that the index is 8.2% below 98.9 recorded in February 2010, so there is considerable room for recovery. The data reflects contracts and not closings, which normally occur with a lag time of one or two months. NAR analysts noted all of the regions saw gains except for the Northeast, where unusually bad winter weather may have curtailed some shopping and contract activity. Existing-home sales are expected to rise 5% to 10% this year. An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined as well as the first of five consecutive record years for existing-home sales; it coincides with a level that is historically healthy.