updated 2/17/2009 1:17:23 PM ET 2009-02-17T18:17:23

The National Association of Home Builders says its housing market index climbed one point off an all-time low this month as improved traffic by prospective buyers helped lift some builders' confidence in their sales outlook.

The Washington-based trade association said Tuesday the index rose to nine in February.

Index readings lower than 50 indicate negative sentiment about the market.

The report reflects a survey of 421 residential developers nationwide, tracking builders' perceptions of market conditions.

Builders' gauge of current sales conditions and buyer traffic climbed from January. But expectations for sales over the next six months hit a record low.

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