U.S. homebuilder sentiment jumped to its highest level in eight months in May, a private survey showed on Monday, supporting views that the three-year housing slump might be close to an end.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index rose to 16 from 14 in April, in line with market expectations.

The NAHB attributed the second consecutive monthly increase in the gauge -- which measures builder confidence in the market for newly built, single family homes -- to the best home buying conditions of a lifetime.

This continued increase indicates that home builders feel we're at or near the bottom of the market and that positive signs lie ahead for builders and potential home buyers, provided that builder access to production credit significantly improves, said NAHB chief economist David Crowe.

Other housing indicators have recently shown a sharp slowing in the pace of the market's decline, raising optimism a bottom was not too far away.

The collapse of domestic house prices and the subsequent global credit crisis were the main catalysts for the U.S. recession, now in its 17th month.

The report also showed two out of three subindexes of the Housing Market Index rising in May. The current sales conditions gauge climbed two points to 14, while the sales expectations measure for the next six months rose three points to 27. The traffic of prospective buyers index was unchanged at 13 in May.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)