By DEREK KRAVITZ, AP Real Estate Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. homebuilders are growing less pessimistic about the housing market, despite tighter lending standards that have slowed home sales.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index rose four points to 25 in January. That's the highest level since June 2007. It's just the third time the index has been at 20 or above in two years.
Still, any reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market. The index hasn't reached 50 since April 2006, the peak of the housing boom.
The index is rising because builders are optimistic that sales will rise this year. In 2011, they fell and are likely to be the lowest level on records going back nearly a half-century.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)