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Builder confidence at 16 for fourth month

Builder confidence at 16 for fourth month (by Ruth Mantell)

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Confidence among builders for newly built, single-family homes has remained at the same relatively low level for four consecutive months, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo housing-market index released Tuesday. The index remained at 16 in February, as predicted by analysts polled by MarketWatch. Results under 50 indicate that more builders said conditions are poor than good. The last time the index was above 50 was in April of 2006. "Builders are telling us that some pockets of optimism have begun to emerge, but many prospective purchasers are concerned about selling their existing home in the current market, or face difficulty securing credit for a home purchase - even when they are well-qualified," said David Crowe, NAHB's chief economist, in a statement. Among the three component indexes, two slightly gained in February: present sales and sales expectations in the next six months. The gauge for prospective-buyer traffic was unchanged. By region, there were gains in the Northeast and South, while there were declines in the Midwest and West.