Growing optimism over the US housing market could be premature, a retailer warned yesterday.

Frank Blake, chief executive of Home Depot, said housing market signals were still mixed.

'We are concerned about the accelerating rates of foreclosures, particularly in the western part of the country,' he said, noting that one in every 54 homes in California was in foreclosure.

Blake said that a slowing foreclosure rate in California during the fourth quarter had led to an improvement in regional store sales but the trend had then reversed as foreclosure rates rose again in the first quarter.

Financial Times