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Economy in Brief

Housing Starts Down More Than Expected
by Tom Moeller April 18, 2006

Housing starts last month fell another 7.8% m/m to 1.960M units following the like decline during February that was little revised. The drop by far exceeded Consensus expectations for a decline to 2.04M starts.

Lower single-family starts led the weakness last month with a 12.0% drop to 1.591M, the lowest level in one year.

Single family housing starts in the West were notably weak and registered a 19.4% (-5.6% y/y) decline to one of the lowest levels in the last two years. In the Midwest single family starts also fell sharply by 19.6% (-22.0% y/y). In the South fell hard for the second month, by 7.0%, but remained up 17.3% y/y while in Northeast starts slipped a moderate 2.7% (+4.4% y/y).

Multi family starts made up half of the prior month's decline with a 15.7% increase into the middle of the range of the last two and one half years.

Building permits fell for the second consecutive month and single family permits fell hard again, by 6.9% (-0.6% y/y) to the lowest level since late 2003.

Housing Starts (000s, AR) Mar Feb Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Total 1,960 2,126 6.9% 2,072 1,950 1,854
  Single-family 1,591 1,807 2.6% 1,716 1,604 1,505
  Multi-family 369 319 30.4% 355 345 349
Building Permits 2,059 2,179 1.9% 2,122 2,058 1,8 88
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