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NAHB Leading Markets Data Bodes Well for 2014
The Leading Market Index (LMI) had a nationwide score of 87, unchanged from February. This means that based on current permits, prices and employment data, the nationwide average is running at 87 percent of normal economic and housing activity. Thirty-two percent of the 350 metro areas tracked by the index had higher scores this month than last and 84 percent have shown improvement over the past year.

"Despite the cold weather that has constrained economic and housing activity across much of the nation this winter, markets are returning to normal levels," said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly. "As the job and housing markets continue to mend and the onset of spring releases the pent-up demand for new homes, this will bode well for the remainder of 2014."

A number of markets are poised to break through on the index according to Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Company, co-sponsor of the report. Pfotenhauer said that 130 of the cities tracked are now at 90 percent or above of their previous norms. This is "a positive trend to watch as the year progresses," he said.

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Jann Swanson
Metropolitan areas considered leading markets on the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/First American index of that name increased to 59 this month, a net gain of one from the previous month. The 59 areas have returned to or exceeded their last "normal levels" of economic activity as measured by employment levels, housing permits issued, and home prices.