Real Estate

Home builder sentiment slides a point in January to 57

A worker guides a section of a new home into place at the Toll Brothers Baker Ranch community development in Lake Forest, California, Feb. 11, 2014.
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Confidence among U.S. home builders held steady in January, giving back very little following a sizeable jump toward the end of 2014.

A monthly index of builder sentiment from the National Association of Home Builders fell just one point in January to 57 from an upwardly-revised December reading. Anything above 50 is considered positive sentiment, and this marks seven straight months above 50.

"Steady economic growth, rising consumer confidence and a growing labor market will help the housing market continue to move forward in 2015," said the association's Chief Economist David Crowe in a release.

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Of the index's three components, current sales conditions remained unchanged at 62. Expectations for future sales dropped four points to 60, and traffic of prospective buyers fell two points to 44. Buyer traffic is the only component that seems unable to break into positive territory.

NAHB housing market index 57

On a three-month moving average, builder confidence in the West rose by four points to 66, in the Midwest gained three points to 57 and in the Northeast was up two points to 47. Confidence among builders in the South dropped two points to 58.

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Some of the major public home builders reporting quarterly earnings this month expressed concern about growth this year. KB Home beat analysts' estimates for the fourth quarter of 2014, which it reported last week, but the company's CEO Jeffrey Mezger said first quarter 2015 gross margin would drop significantly due to, "softening in demand" in certain housing markets. That sent shares plummeting 12 percent on the day.

December housing starts and builder permit counts will be released Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. ET.

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