By Eric Morath

U.S. builders remain highly confident about the market for newly-built single-family homes, but their optimism slipped in January from the highest level in more than a decade the prior month.

The National Association of Home Builders, a trade group, said Wednesday its housing-market index fell to 67 in January. The December reading was revised down to 69 from an initially reading of 70, but it remained the highest monthly reading since 2005. A number over 50 indicates more builders view conditions as good than poor.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected a January reading of 69.

"Builders begin the year optimistic that a new Congress and administration will help create a better business climate for small businesses, particularly as it relates to streamlining and reforming the regulatory process," said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald, a home builder and developer from Kerrville, Texas.

But the trade group's economist, Robert Dietz, said builders are concerned about rising mortgage interest rates slowing demand for new homes, as well as a lack of lots to build on and labor shortages.

Write to Eric Morath at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 18, 2017 10:15 ET (15:15 GMT)

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