By Alex Veiga, AP Real Estate Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Confidence among U.S. homebuilders remained unchanged this month from December at the highest level in nearly seven years, but builders are feeling slightly less optimistic about their prospects for sales over the next six months.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index held steady at 47, the highest reading since April 2006, just before the housing bubble burst.
Readings below 50 suggest negative sentiment about the housing market. The last time the index was at that level or higher was in April 2006, at 51. It began trending higher in October 2011, when it stood at 17.
A measure of traffic by prospective customers increased, while a gauge of current sales conditions remained unchanged from December's reading. An outlook of sales in the next six months declined.