Homebuilders' outlook brightens

U.S. homebuilders are feeling more confident in their sales prospects for the second half of the year, reflecting improved demand and stronger sales of new homes in recent months.

The brighter sales outlook suggests home construction could pick up in coming months after a sluggish start this year.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index rose this month to 53, up four points from a revised reading of 49 in June.

The latest reading is the highest since January, when it was 56.

Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good, rather than poor.

"An improving job market goes hand-in-hand with a rise in builder confidence," NAHB chief cconomist David Crowe said in a press release. "As employment increases and those with jobs feel more secure about their own economic situation, they are more likely to feel comfortable about buying a home."

Builders' view of current sales conditions for single-family homes, their outlook for sales over the next six months and traffic by prospective buyers each increased since June.