Published: Aug 03, 2010 10:00 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 03, 2010 6:58 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of buyers who signed contracts to purchase homes dropped in June, as the weak economy and tight lending standards kept consumers away from the housing market.

The National Association of Realtors says its seasonally adjusted index of sales agreements for previously occupied homes dipped 2.6 percent to a reading of 75.7. That was the lowest on records dating back to 2001 and down nearly 19 percent from the same month a year earlier.

May's reading was revised slightly downward to 77.7. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected the index would rise to 78.1.

The index provides an early measurement of sales activity because there is usually a one- to two-month lag between a sales contract and a completed deal.