US homebuilder sentiment hits highest mark since 1999

Economic IndicatorsAssociated Press

U.S. homebuilders are feeling more optimistic than they have in nearly two decades.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Monday rose five points to 74 this month. That's the highest reading since July of 1999, more than 18 years ago.

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Readings above 50 indicate more builders see sales conditions as good rather than poor. The index has remained above 60 since September of 2016.

The index exceeded the expectations of analysts surveyed by FactSet, who expected a reading of 70.

All three components of the index rose in December, including: readings gauging builders' view of single-family home sales; the outlook for sales over the next six months; and a measure of traffic by prospective buyers.