U.S. Home-Builder Confidence Remained At High Level in February

A gauge of U.S. home-builder confidence was unchanged in February at an elevated level, a sign of continuing momentum for the housing sector in early 2018.

The National Association of Home Builders on Thursday said its housing-market index held steady for the second consecutive month at a seasonally adjusted level of 72 in February. The past two months’ readings have been slightly off the 74 the index hit in December–its highest level in 18 years.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected the index to remain unchanged at 72.

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.

NAHB Chairman Randy Noel pointed to optimism among builders, although he said supply-side construction hurdles exist, “such as shortages of labor and lots and building material price increases.”

A report from the Labor Department earlier Thursday said the producer-price index, a measure of the prices businesses receive and charge for their goods and services, rose a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in January from a month earlier, with a 0.8% increase in the index measuring final demand for construction from the prior month.

Sales of previously owned U.S. homes had their best year in 2017 since the last housing boom. Existing-home sales increased 1.1% to 5.51 million in 2017, the best year for sales since 2006’s 6.48 million, the National Association of Realtors said in January.

Borrowing costs remain low by historical standards, although they have been ticking higher in recent months. The rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.38% in the week ended Thursday, according to Freddie Mac, up from the previous week’s 4.32% rate.
Source: Dow Jones