Homebuilder Confidence Slides in November

Politics Dow Jones Newswires

U.S. builders' confidence in the housing market declined this month but remained near a 10-year high, suggesting the industry is sustaining momentum despite troubles in the global economy.

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The National Association of Home Builders' housing-market index fell three points to 62 in November, the industry group said Tuesday.

A reading over 50 indicates most builders are optimistic about conditions in the market for single-family homes.

October's reading, revised to 65 from an initially reported 64, marked the highest level since October 2005, during the last housing boom.

Confidence this month fell below the consensus estimate of 63 in a Wall Street Journal survey of economists. But the report did little to alter the view that a key segment of the U.S. economy is strengthening as more Americans get jobs and position themselves to buy a home.

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"The November report is pullback from an unusually high October, and is more in line with the consistent, modest growth that we have seen throughout the year," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "A firming economy, continued job creation and affordable mortgage rates should keep housing on an upward trajectory as we approach 2016."

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NAHB Chairman Tom Woods added that "our members continue to voice concerns about the availability of lots and labor."

The latest survey showed that a measure of builder expectations for sales over the next six months fell five points to a still relatively high 70. A measure of present sales conditions declined three points to 67.

The index's final component, a measure of buyer traffic, rose a point to 48. Builder confidence climbed steadily since the summer, driven by strong home sales, sustained low interest rates and a growing labor market. Rising sentiment could ultimately translate into a pickup in construction, which would stir job growth and boost the economy.

Home construction remains historically weak despite the pickup in confidence this year. The number of housing starts has more than doubled since the depths of the recession but remains roughly half of its 2006 peak.