Builder confidence down in March
Builder confidence down in March
Builder confidence in the market for new homes fell this month, according to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders, which said demand was not the problem.
The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, released Monday, blamed a limited supply of ready-to-build lots, rising material and labor costs, and the tougher credit and appraisal standards that prevail in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
The survey touched on builders’ frustrations at a time when Americans are feeling more confident about the economy and housing.
“Many of our members are reporting increased demand for new homes in their markets,” said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte.
Despite the current dissatisfaction, the longer-term picture is improving, the group said. A gauge of the outlook for sales over the next six months was at its strongest point in more than six years.
The builder sentiment index released Monday fell to 44 from 46 in February — the second decline since January, which was preceded by eight straight monthly gains. Readings below 50 suggest negative sentiment about the housing market. The last time the national index was at 50 or higher was in April 2006.
The sentiment was higher in the West, where the index moved above 50 in January and stood at 57 in the latest survey.
— Los Angeles Times
Dow Jones probes bribery allegations
Dow Jones said it found no sign of impropriety at its China operations after the Wall Street Journal reported that a whistleblower had accused Journal employees of bribing Chinese officials for information.
The Justice Department had asked Dow Jones to investigate the matter as part of a wider probe into the 2011 British phone-hacking scandal at its parent company, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
It is not clear if the Justice Department is satisfied with Dow Jones’s findings or if it is still looking into the allegations separately. A department spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Journal reported on its Web site Sunday that an unidentified informant had told the Justice Department that Journal employees in China had given gifts to Chinese officials in exchange for information. The accusations related to the Journal’s reporting activity in Chongqing, the power base of disgraced Chinese official Bo Xilai, according to WSJ.com.
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— From staff reports
and news services
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