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Economy in Brief

Housing Starts Fell Sharply
by Tom Moeller December 16, 2004

Housing starts in November fell a sharp 13.1% m/m to 1.771M, reversing all of a 7.0% rise in October.Consensus expectations had been for 1.98M starts. The latest was the lowest level of starts since May 2003.

Single-family starts fell 11.7% to 1.448M, also the lowest since May 2003, and multi-family starts dropped 19.0%.

Building permits fell 1.5% m/m to 1.988M after an upwardly revised gain October.

The Composite Housing Market Index from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) rose to 71 in December from a downwardly revised November level of 70.

The NAHB index is a diffusion index based on a survey of builders. Readings above 50 signal that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

The index of current single family home sales was stable at its highest in over a year and the index of expected sales in six months rose.

Housing Starts (000s, AR) Nov Oct Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Total 1,771 2,039 -13.8% 1,8 53 1,7 10 1,601
  Single-family 1,448 1,640 -13.3% 1,505 1,3 63 1,272
  Multi-family 3 23 399 -15.9% 348 347 330
Building Permits 1,988 2,018 3.5% 1,8 89 1,749 1,637
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