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US home builder sentiment slips in February: NAHB

[NEW YORK] US homebuilder sentiment fell for a second straight month in February but still showed more builders view market conditions as favourable, the National Association of Home Builders said on Tuesday.

The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index fell to 55 from 57 the month before, the group said in a statement. Economists polled by Reuters had predicted the index would rise to 58.

Readings above 50 mean more builders view market conditions as favourable than poor. The index has not been below 50 since June 2014. "For the past eight months, confidence levels have held in the mid-to upper 50s range, which is consistent with a modest, ongoing recovery," NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said in a statement.

"Solid job growth, affordable home prices and historically low mortgage rates should help unleash growing pent-up demand and keep the housing market moving forward in the year ahead."

The single-family home sales component fell to 61 from 62, marking the first drop in the subindex since October. The gauge of single-family sales expectations for the next six months was flat at 60, while prospective buyer traffic fell to 39 from 44, marking a second straight monthly decline.