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Economy in Brief

Housing Starts Off Sharply
by Tom Moeller April 19, 2005

Housing starts fell a sharp 17.6% from the record high the prior month which was revised slightly higher from the initial report. March starts of 1.837M were the lowest since November of last year.Consensus expectations had been for a lesser decline to 2.10M starts.

Single-family starts of 1.54M slid 14.4% m/m from the upwardly revised record high in February. Single family starts in the Northeast dropped 19.9% (-16.9% y/y) while single family starts in the Midwest reversed all of the prior month's jump with a 18.5% (-8.5% y/y) slump. Single family starts in the South fell 15.3% (-4.8% y/y) and starts in the West were off 7.8% (+0.2% y/y).

Multi family starts cratered by nearly a third to the lowest level since June of last year.

Building permits fell 4.0% but the decline the prior month was revised shallower.

Housing Starts (000s, AR) Mar Feb Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Total 1,837 2,229 -8.2% 1,952 1,853 1,7 10
  Single-family 1,539 1,798 -5.2% 1,605 1,505 1,363
  Multi-family 298 431 -20.7% 347 348 347
Building Permits 2,023 2,107 0.2% 2,035 1,8 89 1,749
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