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U.S. home builder sentiment edges up in April, still gloomy

Roofers work on new homes at a residential construction site in the west side of the Las Vegas Valley in Las Vegas, Nevada April 5, 2013. RE
Roofers work on new homes at a residential construction site in the west side of the Las Vegas Valley in Las Vegas, Nevada April 5, 2013. RE

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. homebuilder sentiment edged up in April but remained mostly dour on lingering concerns about stiff credit conditions for buyers and tight supply of building lots and labor, the National Association of Home Builders said on Tuesday.

The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index rose to 47 in April from a downwardly revised 46 in March, the group said in a statement. Economists polled by Reuters had predicted the index would rebound to 50 in April.

Readings below 50 mean more builders view market conditions as poor than favorable. The April reading was the index's third in a row to come in below 50.

"Builder confidence has been in a holding pattern the past three months," said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a builder and developer from Wilmington, Delaware. "Looking ahead, as the spring home buying season gets into full swing and demand increases, builders are expecting sales prospects to improve in the months ahead."

"Headwinds that are holding up a more robust recovery include ongoing tight credit conditions for home buyers and the fact that builders in many markets are facing a limited availability of lots and labor," NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said.

The index's single-family home sales component was unchanged at 51 after the March figure was revised lower by 1 point.

The gauge of single-family sales expectations for the next six months jumped to a three-month high of 57 from 53, which had been the lowest since May.

Prospective buyer traffic was unchanged at 32 after the previous figure was revised lower by a point.

(Reporting by Dan Burns; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

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