From Real Time Economics

The National Association of Home Builders said Wednesday its housing market index rose to 25 from 21 in December, reaching its highest point since June 2007. It was the fourth-straight monthly increase.

The results were better than expected, as economists polled by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast a reading of 22.

Some analysts see the results, combined with other recent data, as a sign that the U.S. housing market is gradually emerging from a 5 1/2-year bust that helped thrust the economy into the worst recession in decades.

“This is not another false dawn; it’s the real deal,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. With mortgage rates hovering near the lowest recorded levels and the job market improving, “people clearly are more willing to take the plunge into housing,” he said,