U.S. homebuilder sentiment rose in July to a six-month high as the view on both current and expected sales brightened, data from the National Association of Home Builders showed Wednesday.

The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index rose to 53 this month from 49 in June, the group said in a statement. Economists polled by Reuters had predicted the index would hit 50.

Readings below 50 mean more builders view market conditions as poor than favorable. The latest reading above 50 was in January, when the index hit 56.

"An improving job market goes hand-in-hand with a rise in builder confidence," said NAHB chief economist David Crowe in a statement. "As employment increases and those with jobs feel more secure about their own economic situation, they are more likely to feel comfortable about buying a home."

The single-family home sales component rose to 57 from 53. The gauge of single-family sales expectations for the next six months rose to 64, matching the highest since last September, from June's reading of 58, while prospective buyer traffic edged up to 39 from 36 in its third consecutive monthly advance.

 

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)