U.S. Home-Builder Sentiment Surged in December

By Sarah ChaneyFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

A gauge of U.S. home-builder confidence rose in December to the highest level in more than 18 years, a sign of strong momentum for the housing sector heading into 2018.

The National Association of Home Builders on Monday said its housing-market index rose to a seasonally adjusted level of 74 in December. It was revised to 69 for November.

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Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected this month's index to come in at 70.

The index measures builder confidence in the market for new single-family homes. Figures above 50 mean more builders see conditions as good rather than bad.

The trade group's chief economist, Robert Dietz, said a measure of home buyer traffic jumped, an indication of increasing housing demand.

"With low unemployment rates, favorable demographics and a tight supply of existing home inventory, we can expect continued upward movement of the single-family construction sector next year," Mr. Dietz said.

Home builders' confidence level had risen earlier this year to the highest levels since the housing bubble more than a decade ago. December's reading on confidence in the housing market is the highest since March, when the index reached a level of 71.

Existing-home sales increased 2% in October from a month earlier, the National Association of Realtors reported last month. The agency releases November existing-home sales data Wednesday.

Write to Sarah Chaney at sarah.chaney@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 18, 2017 10:14 ET (15:14 GMT)