U.S. Home-Builder Confidence Fell in January

A gauge of U.S. home-builder confidence fell in January but remains elevated after hitting a more than 18-year high last month.

The National Association of Home Builders on Wednesday said its housing-market index fell two points to a seasonally adjusted level of 72 in January, down from 74 in December, the highest report since July 1999.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected the index to decline to 72.

"Builders are confident that changes to the tax code will promote the small business sector and boost broader economic growth," NAHB Chairman Randy Noel said.

January's decline comes after three consecutive months of ballooning home-builder confidence, driven by low unemployment rates, favorable demographics and a tight supply of existing homes, NAHB said in December.

NAHB's traffic index fell four points but also remains elevated at 54, pointing to solid home-buying demand. Sales of previously owned U.S. homes rose in November to the strongest pace in more than a decade, and U.S. housing starts also ballooned in November, reaching the highest level in more than a year. The Commerce Department and the National Association of Realtors will release December housing starts and previously-owned home sales figures data in the coming week.

Borrowing costs remain historically low, despite recent short-term interest rate increases. The rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.99% in the week ended Jan. 11, according to Freddie Mac, up from the previous week's 3.95% rate.

Write to Sharon Nunn at sharon.nunn@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 17, 2018 10:14 ET (15:14 GMT)