SLIGHTLY MORE UPBEAT: The National Association of Home Builders said its March index of industry sentiment improved slightly to 17 _ the first gain in five months after four straight readings of 16.
PESSIMISM ABOUNDS: Any reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the market. The index hasn't been above that level since April 2006.
FUTURE BLEAK: Last year was the worst in more than a decade for sales of previously owned homes and the worst for new-home sales in a half-century. Economists say home prices will bottom out in 2011 before a modest but slow recovery begins.