A gauge of confidence among home builders ticked down this month by one point to 57, staying close to the highest level in nine years, according to National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo data released Monday. Readings above 50 signal that builders, generally, are optimistic about sales trends. December marks the sixth consecutive month of above-50 readings - a trend that "is consistent with our assessment that we are in a slow march back to normal," said David Crowe, NAHB's chief economist. The gauge hit a nine-year high of 59 in September. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected the gauge to rise to 59 in December from 58 in November. Also Monday, NAHB reported that its barometer of builders' views on present sales of single-family homes declined one point to 61 in December, while a barometer of builders' views on upcoming sales fell one point to 65. And a gauge of prospective-buyer traffic was unchanged at 45.
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