NEW YORK (Reuters) — U.S. homebuilder sentiment climbed in February but held tightly near all-time lows, suggesting sales of new single-family homes would be meager as long as foreclosures flood the market, the National Association of Home Builders said on Tuesday.
The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index eked out a one-point gain to 9 from the record low set in January, the group said in a statement. Economists polled by Reuters had predicted the index would stay at 8, the lowest reading since this measure started in January 1985.
Readings below 50 mean more builders view market conditions as poor than favorable. It was the fourth straight month the builder sentiment gauge clung to single digits, and was less than half of the reading of 20 posted a year ago.
“Homebuilders are especially concerned about the continually rising number of foreclosures and short sales, which are flooding the market with excess inventory and undermining overall home values,” NAHB chief economist David Crowe said in a statement.