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Homebuilder confidence at 6 1/2-year high

LOS ANGELES — Confidence among U.S. homebuilders inched upward this month to the highest level in more than six and a half years as builders reported the best market for newly built homes since the housing boom.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index increased to 47, up 2 points from a revised 45 in November. That’s the highest reading since April 2006, just before the housing bubble burst.

Readings below 50 suggest negative sentiment about the housing market. The index last reached the curren level in April 2006, at 51. It has been trending higher since October 2011, when it stood at 17.

Separate measures of current sales conditions and traffic by prospective customers each increased, while an outlook of sales in the next six months declined.

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