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Builder confidence shot up in December, reaching the
highest level the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has recorded in
18 years. NAHB said its Housing Market
Index (HMI), which is cosponsored by Wells Fargo, gained 5 points to 74 from a
downwardly revised (from 70) November reading. The Index, which measures NAHB's new home builder-members
confidence in the market for newly constructed homes, was last at this level in
July 1999. NAHB has been conducting the monthly
survey for more than 30 years. NAHB
asks builders for their perceptions of current single-family
home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as "good," "fair" or
There has been a flurry of news about the two GSEs, Fannie Mae and Freddie
Mac, in the last few weeks. The House
Financial Services Committee recently advanced H.R. 4560, the GSE Jumpstart
Reauthorization Act of 2017 to the full house for consideration. The proposed bill extends the GSE Jumpstart Act
through January 1, 2019, and was approved 33-27. The Jumpstart Act prohibits the sale of the GSE preferred
shares owned by the Treasury Department without congressional approval. The bill also permits the GSEs to suspend
their payments into the Housing Trust Fund for any period when it is unable to
make its full dividend payment to Treasury.