US homebuilder confidence surges in December

Builders viewing sales conditions as good

   U.S. homebuilders' confidence bounced back strongly this month, suggesting many will ramp up construction and hiring in coming months.

   The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index climbed to 58. That's up from 54 in November and matched an eight-year high reached in August. Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good, rather than poor.

   This month, builders' view of current sales conditions jumped to the highest level in eight years, while their outlook for sales heading into next year's spring home-selling season also improved.

   Builders' outlook is rising again after dimming during the 16-day partial shutdown. The index is 11 points higher than a year ago, reflecting a U.S. housing market fueled by steady job growth and still-low mortgage rates.

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