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Economy in Brief

Housing Starts Post Surprising Gain; Single Family At Record
by Tom Moeller December 20, 2005

Housing starts surged 5.3% m/m in November. The gain to 2.123M units reversed most of the prior month's decline and beat Consensus expectations for a decline to 2.015M starts.

A 4.8% gain in single-family starts returned the level to its record height of 1.808M achieved this past February. The gain was most pronounced in the West where starts rose 14.4% (25.8% y/y) and in the Midwest where starts rose 7.5% (22.5% y/y). In the South single family starts rose just 0.8% (22.1% y/y) but in the Northeast single family starts fell for the fourth month in the last five (+5.8% y/y).

Multi family starts recovered about one third of the prior month's skid with a 7.9% m/m gain and building permits recovered about half of the prior month's 5.2% drop as single family permits inched up just 0.2% (7.7% y/y).

Housing Starts (000s, AR) Nov Oct Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Total 2,123 2,017 17.5% 1,950 1,854 1,7 10
  Single-family 1,808 1,725 21.8% 1,604 1,505 1,363
  Multi-family 315 292 -2.5% 345 349 347
Building Permits 2,155 2,103 3.0% 2,058 1,8 88 1,749
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