WASHINGTON -- Low interest rates and steady consumer confidence combined to support the housing market in June as the National Association of Home Builders' Housing Market Index advanced two points from 56 in May to 58.

During the first half of 2001, the index has remained within a 3-point range from a low of 55 in January to a high of 58 in both March and June.

“Builders' assessments of the condition of the single-family housing market are remarkably upbeat, considering the state of the overall economy and the job market,” said Bruce Smith, NAHB president.

On the index scale, any number over 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor.

The index that tracks present single-family home sales rose 3 points to 64 in June, while the index predicting expected sales for the next 6 months increased slightly to 67. The index rating traffic of prospective buyers remained steady at 42.