Optimism among builders slides for fourth consecutive month

FILE- In this Feb. 26, 2018, photo, construction workers work on a new townhouse in Wood-Ridge, N.J. On Monday, April 16, the National Association of

FILE- In this Feb. 26, 2018, file photo, work continues on a new development in Franklin Lakes, N.J. On Monday, April 16, the National Association of

NEW YORK (AP) — Homebuilder confidence is sliding for the fourth consecutive month as steadily rising mortgage rates and sky-high home prices put ownership out of reach for more Americans.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index for April, released Monday, fell one point to 69. Any reading above 50 indicates more builders see sales conditions as good rather than poor, but it's the longest decline since the housing bust.

The index has been above 60 since September 2016.

Builders' view of current sales conditions fell two points to 75, the outlook for sales over the next six months fell one point, to 77. A measure of buyer traffic held steady at 51.

The average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages edged up to 4.42 percent, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday.