Confidence among builders in the market for new single-family homes increased for the fourth straight month, according to the index compiled by lender Wells Fargo and the NAHB.

The index is at 59 on a 100-point scale — its highest reading since November 2005.

"Since early summer, builders in many markets across the nation have been reporting that buyer interest and traffic have picked up, which is a positive sign that the housing market is moving in the right direction," said National Association of Home Builders Chairman Kevin Kelly, a builder and developer from Wilmington, Del.

Association chief economist David Crowe said the index should be higher.

"While a firming job market is helping to unleash pent-up demand for new homes and contributing to a gradual, upward trend in builder confidence, we are still not seeing much activity from first-time home buyers," Crowe said. "Other factors impeding the pace of the housing recovery include persistently tight credit conditions for consumers and rising costs for materials, lots and labor."