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In another sign of an improving U.S. housing market, two major homebuilder ETFs closed yesterday at their highest levels since 2007 as the housing sector continues to help lead the overall U.S. stock market to record highs in 2013. The blue line on the chart below shows the SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (NYSEARCA:XHB), which closed yesterday at 31.28, the highest closing value since June 6, 2007, almost six years ago. Year to date, the S&P homebuilders ETF is up by almost 18%. The red line on the chart shows the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction ETF (NYSEARCA:ITB), which is up 19% year to date and closed yesterday at 25.20, the highest closing price since Aug. 10, 2007. In contrast, the S&P 500 Index is up by 14% this year.

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In other housing-related news, the National Association of Home Builders reported this week that 258 U.S. metro areas (more than 70% of the total) are experiencing improving housing markets, with a) strengthening house prices, b) employment growth, and c) permitting activity for new construction. That "is a much more positive picture than the one we were seeing a year ago," said Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Company. "That's the big picture on which consumers need to focus."