Housing Starts Rise, but Less Than Expected


The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported this morning that new housing starts in February rose to an annual seasonally adjusted rate of 917,000, an increase of 0.8% from the upwardly revised January rate of 910,000 and a gain of 27.7% above the February 2012 rate of 718,000. The consensus estimate from a survey of economists expected the rate to rise to 919,000.

The seasonally adjusted rate of new building permits rose to 946,000, which is 4.6% above the upwardly revised January rate of 904,000, as well as 33.8% higher than the February 2012 rate of 707,000.

Single-family housing starts rose to an annualized rate of 618,000 in February, up 0.5% from the upwardly revised January rate of 615,000.

Permits for new single-family homes rose 0.7% in February, to an adjusted annual rate of 600,000, from an upwardly revised total of 584,000 in December.

Although a little weaker than expected, today's report shows a sharp increase in the number of permits issued, a good sign going forward. The number of multifamily starts also improved significantly month-over-month, from a drop of 19.2% in January to a rise of 1.4% in February.

The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) yesterday reported another drop in builder confidence, blaming a broken supply chain and tight financing.

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