U.S. home­builder con­fi­dence drifts lower in Fe­bru­ary

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo hous­ing mar­ket in­dex for March slipped two points from a prior read­ing of 55 in Fe­bru­ary to 53. The read­ing was well be­low a con­sen­sus fore­cast of 56 from a Bloomberg sur­vey.

An in­dex read­ing above 50 in­di­cates that more builders view sales con­di­tions as good than view them as poor.

The cur­rent sales con­di­tions subindex slipped three points in March to 58, and the sales ex­pec­ta­tions subindex re­mained un­changed at 59. The subindex that es­ti­mates prospec­tive buyer traf­fic dropped from 39 to 37. The buyer traf­fic subindex re­mains stub­bornly be­low 50 and has for months, and the NAHB noted that the over­all down­turn in the in­dex this month is ex­pected to re­verse as the spring buy­ing sea­son heats up.

NAHB’s chief econ­o­mist said: “The drop in builder con­fi­dence is largely at­trib­ut­able to sup­ply chain is­sues, such as lot and la­bor short­ages as well as tight un­der­writ­ing stan­dards. Th­ese ob­sta­cles notwith­stand­ing, we are ex­pect­ing solid gains in the hous­ing mar­ket this year, buoyed by sus­tained job growth, low mort­gage in­ter­est rates and pent-up de­mand.”

The NAHB/Wells Fargo hous­ing mar­ket in­dex has re­mained in pos­i­tive ter­ri­tory since last July, but the buyer traf­fic subindex could in­di­cate more than just a sea­sonal down­turn: first-time buy­ers may be stay­ing away be­cause lend­ing re­quire­ments are stiffer and home prices have con­tin­ued to in­crease, even if the in­creases are mod­er­at­ing. (Source: 24/7 Wall St.com)

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