In a sign that rising interest rates may be slowing the housing market, the National Association of Home Builders said Tuesday that its housing market index has fallen three points since last month, to 74.

It was the first decline in the index since March. Besides interest rates, shortages of building materials, skilled labor, and finished lots for development were cited as reasons.

The index, which peaked at 78 in November and December of 1998, is based on a monthly survey of builders. A score over 50 indicates more builders view sales conditions as good than poor.

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