Home Builder Confidence Surprisingly Strong in February

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 16: Construction laborers work on the site of a new residential building in the Hudson Yards development, August 16, 2016 in New York City. Home construction in the U.S. accelerated in July to the fastest pace in five months. While housing starts were up 2.1 …
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
JOHN CARNEY

It is not just the stock market that recovered its mojo in 2019.

Home builder confidence, which had slumped at the end of last year along with share prices, surged by more than expected in February.

The monthly survey from the National Association of Home Builders, which asks home builders about general economic conditions and housing market conditions, showed confidence rising from 58 in January to 62 in February. That marks the second consecutive monthly gain and exceeded not only the consensus forecast but was above the top range of economists’ predictions.

Readings above 50 indicate more home builders view sales conditions as good rather than poor.

The improvement was apparent both in current market conditions and expectations. Present sales rose 3 points to 67, and 6-month sales were up 5 points to 68.

This index fell much more than expected in November and December, falling 12 points over the course of two months. Mortgage rates were rising at the tail-end of last year and many market watchers feared that tightening monetary policy could thwart the still recovering economy. Since then, the Fed has signaled it will be patient in raising its interest rate target and mortgage rates have declined.

 

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