Meanwhile, consumer sentiment rose in May as consumers remained resilient despite record high gasoline prices. But pending sales of existing U.S. homes in April unexpectedly fell to its lowest since February 2003, data from a real estate trade group showed.
The Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers said its final May reading on consumer sentiment index rose to 88.3 from 87.1 at the end of April. The preliminary May
reading, released in mid-May, was 88.7.
The median forecast on the overall sentiment reading among analysts polled by Reuters was 88.0.
"To be sure, lower income households complained that high gas prices had devastated their budgets, but even among those vulnerable consumers their complaints were less frequent than
last May when the price of gas was 34 cents (a gallon) lower," Reuters/University of Michigan said in a statement.
The survey's one-year inflation index held steady from late April at 3.3 percent, and its five-year inflation index was unchanged at 3.1 percent.
The National Association of Realtors said its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in April, fell 3.2 percent to 101.4 from an upwardly revised level of 104.8 in March. The index registered 99.3 in February 2003.
Wall Street analysts polled ahead of the report were expecting the April index to be 105.