WASHINGTON Jan 16 U.S. homebuilder confidence
in the market for single family homes held steady at near seven
year highs in January, suggesting the outlook for the housing
market remained upbeat.
The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index was at 47 this
month, the highest level since April 2006. Economists
polled by Reuters had expected the index to edge up to 48.
The National Association of Home Builders said prolonged
negotiations over fiscal policy had caused some uncertainty
among builders this month.
A reading below 50 means more builders view market
conditions as poor than favorable. The index has not been above
50 since April 2006.
"Conditions in the housing market look much better now than
at the beginning of 2012 and an increasing number of housing
markets are showing signs of recovery, which should bode well
for future home sales later this year," said NAHB chairman Barry
"Uncertainties stemming from last month's fiscal cliff
negotiations contributed to the pause in builder confidence and
continuing discussions among policymakers related to spending
cuts and the future of the mortgage interest deduction could put
a damper on housing demand in the coming months."
A measure of sales expectations in the next six months
slipped a point to 49, while a gauge of current sales conditions
was unchanged at 51. The prospective buyers index rose a point
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)