Builder confidence up in January

The builder confidence index, released by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Wells Fargo, rose one point to 19 last month, from a downwardly revised figure of 18 in December. The reading is on par with a figure of 19 in both October and December, the NAHB said.

“The HMI has held within a narrow two-point range for the past five months, indicating that builder views of housing market conditions essentially haven’t changed over that time,” said NAHB chief economist David Seiders. “Builders are anticipating a time when market conditions will support an upswing in building activity -- most likely in the second half of 2008.”

The index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as either “good,” “fair” or “poor.”

Component indexes fell in line with the overall results, according to the report. The index gauging current single-family home sales remained unchanged at 19, and the index gauging traffic of prospective buyers rose one point to 14. The index gauging sales expectations for the next six months rose two points to 28.

Regionally, the HMI results were mixed in January. The Northeast posted no change at 20, while the Midwest reported a two-point gain to 17 and the South registered a three-point gain to 23. The West posted a five-point decline to an HMI reading of 13.

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