After an Eight-Month Ride, Home Builder Confidence Stalls

(CNBC) Despite big earnings gains from the big public builders, overall confidence among the nation's home builders took a pause in January. An industry index measuring sentiment was unchanged after eight consecutive monthly gains. The index was heading toward the line between positive and negative sentiment, but appears to have stalled.

"Uncertainties stemming from last month's fiscal cliff negotiations contributed to the pause in builder confidence and continuing discussions among policymakers related to spending cuts and the future of the mortgage interest deduction could put a damper on housing demand in the coming months," noted Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders in a release.

The NAHB's sentiment index remains at 47; 50 is the line between positive and negative. One year ago it stood at 25. A huge drop in supplies of existing homes for sale has helped the builders considerably over the past several months. This week Miami-based Lennar reported a 32 percent year-over-year jump in new orders, although analysts had expected an even bigger gain.

The three components of the NAHB index, however, were mixed.

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