U.S. homebuilders' confidence in the housing market has declined sharply as the severe weather battering much of the nation keeps many would-be buyers at home.
Storms and cold weather dampened builders' outlook for sales ahead of the spring home-selling season and could further slow the pace of home construction.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index slid to 46. That's down from January's reading of 56 and is the lowest level since May.
Readings below 50 indicate that more builders view sales conditions as poor rather than good.
Builders' view of current sales conditions for single-family homes, their outlook for sales over the next six months and traffic by prospective buyers have all declined since January.
Economists predict that U.S. sales of new homes fell last month.