WASHINGTON, July 16 (Xinhua) -- U.S. builder confidence for newly-built, single-family homes rose to a six-month high in July as the outlook for future home sales largely improved, a leading industry report said Wednesday.
The builder sentiment index rose to 53 this month from 49 in June, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) /Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).
That was better than the market expectation of 50 and the highest level since January. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good, rather than poor.
"This is the first time that builder confidence has been above 50 since January and an important sign that it is strengthening as pent-up demand brings more buyers into the marketplace," said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly in a statement.
In July, the HMI index gauging views on current sales conditions increased four points to 57, and the component measuring traffic of prospective buyers rose three points to 39. The component gauging sales expectations for the next six months rose six points to 64, the highest level since last September.
"As employment increases and those with jobs feel more secure about their own economic situation, they are more likely to feel comfortable about buying a home," said NAHB's chief economist David Crowe.
The U.S. employers added 288,000 jobs in June, posting the fifth consecutive month with job gains above 200,000, indicating the job market was improving, the Labor Department said earlier this month.
But the Federal Reserve remains concerned about the housing recovery. The housing sector "has shown little recent progress," Fed Chair Janet Yellen said Tuesday.
"While this sector has recovered notably from its earlier trough, housing activity leveled off in the wake of last year's increase in mortgage rates, and readings this year have, overall, continued to be disappointing," she noted.