WASHINGTON, March 18 (Xinhua) -- U.S. builder confidence for newly-built, single-family homes declined in March, indicating the market had been losing momentum since the beginning of this year, a leading industry report said on Monday.
The builder sentiment index went down two points to 44 this month, the lowest level since October 2012, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).
"Following eight consecutive months of improvement, builder confidence leveled off in January and has since edged down several points," said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson.
"Although many of our members are reporting increased demand for new homes in their markets, their enthusiasm is being tempered by frustrating bottlenecks in the supply chain for developed lots along with rising costs for building materials and labor."
In March, three HMI components were mixed. The component gauging current sales conditions declined four points to 47, while the component measuring sales expectations for the next six months rose by one point to 51, and the component measuring traffic of prospective buyers posted gains of three points to 35.
Any reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the market. The index has not rebounded above that level since April 2006.
However, NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe noted that builders were much more optimistic this month than they were a year ago.