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Economy in Brief

August Housing Starts At Year's High
by Tom Moeller September 21, 2004

Housing starts added a slight 0.6% last month to the upwardly revised 9.4% jump in July.At 2.000 mil., starts were at the highest level of 2004 and year to date have averaged 5.1% above 2003. The Consensus forecast had been for 1.94M starts for August.

Single-family starts rose 0.4% on the heels of the 9.2% jump the prior month. Year to date single family starts have averaged 6.5% above last year's average.

Multi-family starts rose 1.5% in August but for the year have averaged 1.1% below 2003.

Housing starts rose in August throughout the country with the exception of the West. Year to date 2004 changes versus 2003 by region are as follows: Northeast, 8.0%; Midwest, -5.1%; South, 7.7%; West, 7.1%.

Building permits fell 5.5% m/m and reversed most of the 6.2% July gain.

"Can a Summer Hike Cause a Surprise Fall for Mortgage Rates?" from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis can be found here.

Housing Starts (000s, AR) Aug July Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Total 2,000 1,988 9.0% 1,853 1,710 1,601
  Single-family 1,667 1,660 11.6% 1,505 1,363 1,272
  Multi-family 333 328 -2.3% 348 347 330
Building Permits 1,952 2,066 -0.6% 1,889 1,749 1,637
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