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U.S. home builder sentiment steady in September - group

Workers build a new single-family home in San Marcos, California, January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Workers build a new single-family home in San Marcos, California, January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. homebuilder sentiment was unchanged in September after four straight months of gains, the National Association of Home Builders said on Tuesday.

The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index remained flat at 58 in September, the group said in a statement. The August reading was initially reported at 59 but was revised to 58 on Tuesday.

Economists polled by Reuters predicted the index would notch 59 in September.

Readings below 50 mean more builders view market conditions as poor than favorable.

The pause in sentiment came as borrowing costs for home buyers have jumped recently.

Rates for 30-year mortgages have risen well over 100 basis points since May, to 4.8 percent in the latest week, on speculation the U.S. Federal Reserve will soon taper its $85-billion-per-month in buying of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities.

Fed policymakers kick off a two-day meeting on Tuesday to consider such a pullback, with a statement expected on Wednesday.

"Home buyers are adjusting to the fact that, while mortgage rates are still quite favorable on a historic basis, the record lows are probably a thing of the past," said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, North Carolina, in the statement.

The survey's index on homebuilders' views of current sales conditions held unchanged at 62, the industry group said.

The gauge of expectations for single-family home sales for the next six months slipped to 65 from 68. The component on prospective buyer traffic rose to 47, the highest since October 2005, from an upwardly revised 46 in August.

(Reporting by Luciana Lopez; Editing by Chris Reese and Jeffrey Benkoe)

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