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Homebuilder confidence unchanged in March

A measure of homebuilder confidence remained flat in March, staying at its highest level in four years but still well below a healthy reading.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo index did not change from last month’s downwardly revised reading of 28, ending a five-month streak of growth. It’s still the best mark since June 2007, but it’s far lower than a pre-recession high of 72 in summer 2005.

Analysts surveyed by Econoday expected a modest increase in the index to 30, while a MarketWatch poll predicted no difference from an initial February reading of 29.

The index component of current sales conditions fell one point to 29 in March, while sales expectations grew two points to 36. The prospective buyers portion did not change from its reading of 22.

Homebuilder confidence grew modestly in each region over the past month, except for a 10-point drop in the West to a reading of 22. Midwest builders registered the highest mark at 32.

A score of 50 on the 100-point scale generally means more single-family homebuilders see conditions as good rather than poor.

Homebuilder stocks dipped at market open Monday, including PulteGroup (PHM), Toll Brothers (TOL) and D.R. Horton (DHI). Hovnanian Enterprises (HOV) and Beazer Homes (BZH) shares rose modestly.



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