U.S. homebuilders say sales prospects and buyer traffic fell slightly this month.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index slipped to 55 from 57 in January.
Despite the decline, builders remain relatively optimistic a month before the start of the spring buying season. Readings above 50 indicate that more builders view sales conditions as positive rather than poor. Lower mortgage rates, coupled with job gains over the past year, point to stronger sales.
Builders' outlook for current sales conditions and prospective buyer traffic slipped in February, while the expected sales conditions over the next six months held steady.
The latest reading is consistent with the NAHB's forecast for the U.S. housing market to continue to improve at a gradual pace this year.