U.S. home builder sentiment rises in July-NAHB

updated 7/18/2011 10:04:30 AM ET

NEW YORK — U.S. home builder sentiment rose more than expected in July but remained near historic lows, the National Association of Home Builders said on Monday.

The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index rose to 15 in July after falling to a nine-month low of 13 in June, the group said in a statement.

Economists polled by Reuters had predicted the index would rise to 14. Readings below 50 mean more builders view market conditions as poor than favorable.

“The improvement in builder confidence in July is a positive sign that the outlook perhaps isn’t quite as bleak as was feared in June,” said Bob Nielsen, chairman of the NAHB, in a statement. While builders continue to struggle with competition from cheap foreclosed properties and a restrictive lending environment, Nielsen said consumers in some markets are beginning to take advantage of good buying conditions.

But in the same statement, NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said the upward movement was a correction from the “exceptionally weak” number in June. “Basically, the market continues to bounce along the bottom, with conditions in some locations beginning to improve.”

Data on new U.S. home construction, existing home sales, and home prices are expected to show little, if any, improvement later this week. (Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Padraic Cassidy)

Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters

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