U.S. builder confidence for newly-built, single-family homes stood nearly unchanged in February, indicating the market had been losing momentum since the beginning of this year, a leading industry report said on Tuesday.
The builder sentiment index went down one point to 46 this month, down from the prior month's reading that reached its highest level since April 2006, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).
"Following solid gains over the past year, builder confidence has essentially leveled out and held in the same three-point range over the last four months," said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson. "This is partly due to ongoing uncertainties about job growth and consumer access to mortgage credit, but it's also a reflection of the fact that builders are now confronting rising costs for building materials, and in some markets, limited availability of labor and lots as demand for new homes strengthens."
In February, three HMI components were mixed. The component gauging current sales conditions fell by one point to 51, and the component measuring traffic of prospective buyers slipped four points to 32. While the component measuring sales expectations for the next six months rose by one point to 50.
Any reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the market. The index hasn't rebounded above that level since April 2006.
NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe expected home building to continue on a modest rising trajectory this year.