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NEW YORK, Sept 16 (Reuters) - U.S. homebuilder sentiment rose in September to its highest in nearly a decade as traffic from potential buyers gained ground, the National Association of Home Builders said on Wednesday.
The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index rose to 62 from 61 in August, the group said in a statement, the highest reading since October 2005. It was also slightly above economists' expectations for a reading of 61, according to a Reuters poll.
Readings above 50 indicate more builders view market conditions as favorable than poor. The index has not been below 50 since June 2014.
"NAHB is projecting about 1.1 million total housing starts this year," NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said in a statement. "Today's report is consistent with our forecast, and barring any unexpected jolts, we expect housing to keep moving forward at a steady, modest rate through the end of the year."
NAHB Chairman Tom Woods said builders remain concerned about the availability of building lots and labor.
The single-family home sales component rose to 67, the highest since November 2005, from 66. Prospective buyer traffic rose to 47, the highest in a year, from 45.
One index component did slip, however: The gauge of single-family sales expectations for the next six months dropped to 68 from 70. (Reporting by Dan Burns; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)