Home building permits near 4½ year high

WASHINGTON, Wed Dec 19, 2012 — U.S. permits for future home construction set their fastest pace in nearly 4½ years in November, pointing to underlying strength in the housing market, even as starts dropped after three straight months of strong gains.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday building permits increased 3.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 899,000 units, the highest since July 2008.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected permits, which lead starts by at least a month to rise to an 875,000-unit pace last month from 868,000 units in October.

Groundbreaking fell 3.0 percent to an 861,000-unit pace, worse than economists’ expectations for a pullback to 873,000 units. October’s starts were revised down to show an 888,000-unit pace instead of the previously reported 894,000 units.

The step back in homebuilding in November followed three straight months of solid gains, and reflected a 5.2 percent drop in the Northeast, which was slammed by Superstorm Sandy in late October. Starts also tumbled 19.2 percent in the West.

The housing market has regained some footing after a historic collapse that pushed the economy into its worst recession since the Great Depression.

Housing starts hit four-year high in October

WASHINGTON, Tue Nov 20, 2012 – Housing starts rose to their highest rate in more than four years in October, suggesting the housing market recovery was gaining steam, even though permits for future construction fell.

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday housing starts increased 3.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 894,000 units – the highest since July 2008.

September’s starts were revised down to show a 863,000-unit pace instead of the previously reported 872,000 units. Economists had expected groundbreaking to slow to a 840,000-unit rate last month.

The department said superstorm Sandy, which slammed the East Coast in late October, had a minimal impact on the data. The Northeast accounted for about 8 percent of overall housing starts. Groundbreaking in the Northeast fell 6.5 percent.

The housing market has turned around after an unprecedented collapse that landed the economy in its worst recession since the Great Depression. The recovery, marked by rising home sales, prices and building activity is being driven by pent-up demand against the backdrop of record low mortgage rates.

The Federal Reserve has targeted housing as a channel to boost growth, announcing in September that it would buy $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities per month until the outlook for employment improved substantially.

Housing starts surge to fastest pace since 2008

, Wed Oct 17, 2012 – Groundbreaking on new U.S. homes surged in September to its fastest pace in more than four years, a sign the housing sector’s budding recovery is gaining traction.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday housing starts increased 15 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 872,000 units. That was the quickest pace since July 2008, though data on housing starts is volatile and subject to substantial revisions.

Augusts’ starts were revised to show a 758,000-unit pace instead of the previously reported 750,000.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast residential construction rising to a 770,000-unit rate.

The housing starts rate is now about 40 percent of its peak in January 2006. The housing market, the Achilles heel of the recovery from the 2007-09 recession, is slowly healing.

September groundbreaking for single-family homes, the largest segment of the market, rose 11 percent to a 603,000-unit pace – the highest level since August 2008. Starts for multi-family homes climbed 25.1 percent.

Building permits grew by 11.6 percent to an 894,000-unit pace in September. August’s permits were unrevised at 801,000 units.

Economists had expected permits to rise to an 810,000-unit pace last month.

Housing starts rise, multifamily projects weak

WASHINGTON, Wed Sep 19, 2012 – Housing starts rose less than expected in August as groundbreaking on multifamily home projects fell, but the trend continued to point to a turnaround in the housing market.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday housing starts increased 2.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 750,000 units. July’s starts were revised to show a 733,000-unit pace instead of the previously reported 746,000.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast residential construction rising to a 765,000-unit rate. Compared to August last year, residential construction was up 29.1 percent.

Housing starts are now a third of their 2.27 million-unit peak in January 2006. The housing market, the Achilles heel of the recovery from the 2007-09 recession, is slowly healing.

Sales have been creeping up and the house price decline has bottomed, with a tightening supply of properties on the market raising prices in some metropolitan areas. In addition, homebuilder sentiment touched a six-year high in September.

Home building is expected to add to gross domestic product growth this year for the first time since 2005.

Though residential construction accounts for about 2.5 percent of GDP, economists estimate that for every new house built, at least three new jobs are created.

The Federal Reserve moved last week to bolster the economy, announcing it would buy $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities per month until the outlook for employment improved significantly.

Last month, groundbreaking for single-family homes, the largest segment of the market, rose 5.5 percent to a 535,000-unit pace – the highest level since April 2010. Starts for multi-family homes fell 4.9 percent.

Factory output and housing starts fall in March 0.2 percent

WASHINGTON, Tue Apr 17, 2012 – American manufacturing output slipped in March and groundbreaking on homes fell, casting a shadow over the economic outlook.

The Federal Reserve said on Tuesday factory production slipped 0.2 percent last month, dragging on overall industrial output which was unchanged from a month earlier.

“It looks pretty bad on the face of it,” said Tom Porcelli, an economist at RBC Capital Markets in New York.

Still, Porcelli said the factory sector, which has been a key driver of the economy’s recovery from the 2007-2009 recession, appeared to have enough momentum to continue growing.

Auto production, for example, increased 0.6 percent after rising 0.8 percent in February.

Housing starts slipped 5.8 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 654,000 units, the Commerce Department said in a separate report.

The long-moribund housing sector has showed signs of an incipient recovery in recent months, and homebuilding could add to economic growth this year for the first time since 2005.

Despite the drop in starts, the data suggests housing construction could still add to gross domestic product during the first quarter, said Millan Mulraine, a macro strategist at TD Securities in New York.

Housing starts dip; permits near 3½-year high

WASHINGTON,| Tue Mar 20, 2012 – Housing starts fell in February, but permits for future construction jumped to their highest level since October 2008, according to a government report on Tuesday that showed steady improvement in the housing market.

The Commerce Department said housing starts slipped 1.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 698,000 units. January’s starts were revised up to a 706,000-unit pace from a previously reported 699,000 unit rate.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast housing starts little changed at a 700,000-unit rate. Compared to February last year, residential construction was up 34.7 percent, the biggest year-on-year rise since April 2010.

New building permits surged 5.1 percent to a 717,000-unit pace last month, far exceeding economists’ expectations for an advance to a 690,000-unit pace from January’s 682,000-unit rate.

Green shoots are starting to emerge in the housing market, but an oversupply of unsold homes, which is depressing prices, remains a major hurdle, even as sales have picked up in recent months as job growth accelerated.

Residential construction is expected to add to economic growth this year for the first time since 2005.

Sentiment among home builders held at a near five-year high in March, a survey showed on Monday, and they were optimistic about sales over the next six months.