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  • NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Reaches Highest Level in 6 Years

    Home builders continue to feel better about the state of the housing market. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index has reached its highest level in over six years. The index is now at 40 after rising for the fifth month in a row (the index was at 25 in January), according to the National Association of Home Builders . From the NAHB release: “Builders across the country are expressing a more positive outlook on current sales conditions, future sales prospects and the amount of consumer traffic they are seeing through model homes than they have in more than five years,” noted NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “However, against the improving demand for new homes, concerns are now rising about the lack of building lots in certain markets and the rising cost of building materials. Given the fragile nature of the housing and economic recovery, these are significant red flags.” Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for the past 25 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores from each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor. All three HMI components posted gains in September. While the component gauging current sales conditions increased four points to 42, the component gauging sales prospects in the next six months rose eight points to 51 and the component measuring traffic of prospective buyers edged up one point to 31. Read the full release here .
  • Gallup Poll Shows Small Business Owners Intend to Create More Jobs

    More small business owners intend to make new hires over the next year, according to a recently released Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index poll. 22% of small business owners expect to increase the total number of jobs at their businesses, while just 8% expect to decrease the number of jobs. Here's a look at the index trend: From Gallup: The increase in small-business owner hiring intentions over the past year is consistent with the strong performance of Gallup's Job Creation Index in January and the decline in the unemployment rate as measured by Gallup at mid-month. At the same time, small-business owners have often expected to increase hiring in recent years but later reported that they actually eliminated more jobs than they created. So it remains to be seen whether the greater expectations for hiring in the next 12 months will become reality. The preference of small-business owners for hiring temporary, contract, and part-time workers may help explain why Gallup is seeing increasing numbers of people working part time but wanting full-time work even when the unemployment rate is lower. Further, this preference may reflect the continued caution on the part of many small-business owners toward the U.S. economy. Just a year ago, many owners also hoped to significantly increase their hiring in 2011, but their current reports of hiring they did last year indicates that this did not happen. Many small-business owners also continue to say they are having trouble finding qualified employees. This situation could end up hurting a lot more than one in five small businesses if hiring begins in earnest later this year. While small-business owners tend to be agile -- and have demonstrated their ability to adjust to the business cycle as needed to survive -- weak economic conditions have persisted since 2008. Read the full release here . (hat tip Small Business Trends )
  • NAHB/Wells Fargo HMI Dips to 14

    Not that anybody is expecting new home sales to rebound in a significant way anytime soon, but the National Association of Home Builders had little positive news to report today upon release of monthly home builder confidence survey results. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index slid one point to 14. The index has been below 16 for the last 6 months. From the release: "Very little has changed in terms of housing market conditions so far this year," said NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen, a home builder from Reno, Nevada. "Builders continue to confront the same challenges in accessing construction credit, obtaining accurate appraisal values for new homes, and competing against foreclosed properties that they have seen for some time. Beyond this, both builder and consumer confidence took a hit in recent weeks with the market disruptions caused by the S&P downgrade and congressional gridlock on the budget deficit." "The fact that the HMI continues to hover within such a narrow, low range reflects builders' awareness that many consumers are simply unwilling or unable to move forward with a home purchase in today's uncertain economic climate," added NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "While some bright spots are beginning to emerge in about a dozen select metro areas, the broader picture remains fairly bleak due to the weak economy and job market." Read the full release here .
  • NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index of Home Builder Confidence Remains Low

    The good news for those looking at residential construction as a key economic indicator: home builders are a shade more confident in the market for new homes than they were last month. The bad news: builders were pretty pessimistic last month. The overall rating on the National Association of Home Builders confidence index remains at 15--what the NAHB calls a "low level." From the release: Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for more than 20 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as "good," "fair" or "poor." The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as "high to very high," "average" or "low to very low." Scores from each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor. Two out of three of the HMI's component indexes posted marginal gains in August. The component gauging current sales conditions gained one point to 16 – its highest level since March of this year – and the component gauging traffic of prospect buyers rose one point to 13 following two consecutive months at 12. However, the component gauging sales expectations for the next six months declined two points to 19, partially offsetting a six-point gain from the last month's revised number. Read the full press release here .