NEW YORK, Aug 15 (Reuters) - U.S. homebuilder sentiment rose in August to its highest level in more than five years, a fresh sign that the battered housing market is turning the corner, data from the National Association of Home Builders showed on Wednesday.
The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index gained to 37 this month from 35 in July, the group said in a statement, topping economists' expectations for it to hold steady with last month.
It was the highest level since February 2007 and the fourth month in a row sentiment has improved. The index has surged by more than 20 points since last summer, though it is still far from the 50 mark that shows more builders view market conditions as favorable than poor.
The index has not been above 50 since April 2006.
"While there is still much room for improvement, we have come a long way from the depths of the recession and the outlook appears to be brightening," NAHB chairman Barry Rutenberg said in the statement.
The single-family home sales component climbed to 39 from 36. The gauge of single-family sales expectations for the next six months edged up to 44 from 43, while prospective buyer traffic rose to 31 from 28. (Reporting By Leah Schnurr; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
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