US homebuilder confidence dips

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LOS ANGELES — Confidence among U.S. homebuilders slipped this month from the 6½ year high it reached in January. Many builders reported less traffic by prospective customers before the critical spring home-buying season.


The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index fell one point to 46 from 47 in January. It was the first monthly decline in the index since April.


Readings below 50 suggest negative sentiment about the housing market. The last time the index was at 50 or higher was in April 2006, when it was 51. It began trending higher in October 2011, when it was 17.


Measures of traffic by prospective customers and current sales conditions both declined from January’s reading. Builders’ outlook of sales in the next six months improved, however.


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