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US homebuilder confidence surges in July

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In this Friday, May 16, 2014 photo, a builder works on the site of the SoMa at Brickell apartment building in downtown Miami. The National Association of Home Builders releases housing market index for July on Wednesday, July 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

In this Friday, May 16, 2014 photo, a builder works on the site of the SoMa at Brickell apartment building in downtown Miami. The National Association of Home Builders releases housing market index for July on Wednesday, July 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

U.S. homebuilders are feeling more confident in their sales prospects for the second half of the year, reflecting improved demand and stronger sales of new homes in recent months.

The brighter sales outlook suggests home construction could pick up in coming months after a sluggish start this year.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index rose this month to 53, up four points from a revised reading of 49 in June.

The latest reading is the highest since January, when it was 56.

Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good, rather than poor.

Builders’ view of current sales conditions for single-family homes, their outlook for sales over the next six months and traffic by prospective buyers each increased since June.

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This photo taken in January, 2014 shows Sendai Nuclear Power Station in Sendai, Kagoshima prefecture, southern Japan. The nuclear power plant in southern Japan has received a passing grade for safety requirements raised after the Fukushima disaster, clearing a major hurdle toward becoming the first to restart under the tighter rules. The Nuclear Regulation Authority gave preliminary approval Wednesday, July 16, 2014 to a report that concludes that two reactors at Sendai Nuclear Power Station have complied with the new regulations and are capable of avoiding disasters such as the Fukushima Dai-ichi meltdowns, even if the plant faces equally harsh conditions. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT
Japanese nuclear plant deemed safe, nears restart

The regulators deemed the plant capable of avoiding severe accidents in situations equal to what occurred at Fukushima Dai-ichi

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