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U.S. Homebuilder Confidence Drops More Than Expected In March

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Homebuilder confidence in the U.S. has deteriorated by slightly more than anticipated in the month of March, according to a report released by the National Association of Home Builders on Tuesday.

The report said the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index fell to 72 in March after edging down to 74 in February. Economists had expected the index to dip to 73.

"Builder confidence remains solid, although sales expectations for the next six months dropped four points on economic uncertainty stemming from the coronavirus," said NAHB Chairman Dean Mon

He added, "Interest rates remain low, and a lack of inventory creates market opportunities for single-family builders."

NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz noted more than half of the builder responses were collected prior to March 4, so the recent stock market declines and the rising economic impact of the coronavirus will be reflected more in next month's report.

The bigger than expected decrease by the headline index reflected decreases by all three components, with the component measuring sales expectations in the next six months slumping to 75 in March from 79 in February.

The index gauging current sales conditions also dipped to 79 in March from 81 in February, while the gauge charting traffic of prospective buyers edged down to 56 from 57.

On Wednesday, the Commerce Department is scheduled to release its report on new residential construction in the month of February.

Housing starts are expected to drop to an annual rate of 1.520 million in February after pulling back to a rate of 1.567 million in January.

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